153: When Habits Just Aren’t Working | Tanya Dalton
December 17, 2019   |   Episode #:

153: When Habits Just Aren’t Working

In This Episode:

Creating and sticking to new habits is always a challenge within itself, but it’s definitely doable. If you’re looking to start some new healthy habits, then you’ll want to hear this episode with today’s guest, Brenda. If you’re a member of our Facebook group, then you likely know Brenda because she’s always quick to lend support and encouragement on different posts. Plus, she’s hilarious. Right now, Brenda’s in a transitional period in life. She’s decided to step away from her day job to pursue her passion for ministry. We discuss how she can use her current habits as a springboard for creating new ones and using cues as triggers for developing them. We also touch on how to determine the bigger “why” behind the habits you wish to create.

Show Transcript:

The Big Idea

Allow yourself to be perfectly imperfect.

Questions I Answer

  • question

Actions to Take

  • Have a habit that you’d like to start incorporating into your daily life? Get started by using the 4 Steps to Creating a Habit and work toward making it a routine in your life.
  • This year for Christmas, I am asking for reviews on my book, The Joy of Missing Out. If you’ve read it, it would mean the world to me if you would take a few minutes to review it on Amazon or Goodreads.

Key Topics in the Show

  • The 4 Steps to Creating a Habit

  • Using habits that you’ve already established as springboards for new ones

  • Examining cues that you can use as triggers for new habits

  • Thinking about the excuses that you give yourself and working to eliminate them

  • Creating ways to record your successes and giving yourself grace when you stumble off track

Resources and Links

  • The 4 Steps to Creating a Habit:
    • Articulate the Habit
    • Identify the Cues
    • Define the Behavior
    • Make a Plan
Show Transcript

Welcome to productivity paradox with Tanya Dalton, a podcast focused on finding 

true happiness through productivity. Season 12 is different from any she’s done before with real conversations with real women, applying strategies and concepts 

explored in The Joy of Missing Out. 

This season, you’ll learn how to live more by doing less. And now here’s your host, 

Tanya Dalton. 

Tanya: 

Hello, hello everyone, welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 153. Today we’re going to be talking about what to do when habits just aren’t working. This season is all about the joy of missing out, and we’re having conversations all season long with women who need a little bit of help applying what we talk about in the book. And I have to tell you, I have absolutely loved this season. I love how so many of you have gotten the book, shared the book, and even gotten notes from quite a few of you telling me that you are rereading the book with your husbands and sharing with them how JOMO works. I cannot tell you how much that means to me. So before we dive into today’s show, I have a quick favor to ask of you. If you like the book, will you leave a review for it on Amazon? Reviews really do help spread the word and will help the book reach more women. Platforms like Amazon and Goodreads use reviews to decide if they want to suggest the book to people reading other books. 

So as you can imagine, this can make a huge difference in spreading the JOMO of movement, and it would really mean a lot to me. So, I would absolutely love for you to take just a minute or two and post a review on Amazon and or Goodreads. You can use the same review for both. All right, speaking of JOMO, let’s get into today’s conversation with Brenda. Brenda is a lot of fun. If you are in my Facebook group, you probably know Brenda because she is always quick to support and encourage on the different posts and she’s hilarious. I was so excited to get to chat with her one-on-one. Getting into our conversation was so easy because even though Brenda and I have never met, I feel like I know her because she’s in the group. And when she mentioned that she was struggling with establishing habits, I knew I wanted to dig into this even more with her. 

I feel like this is something so many people wrestle with, which is funny because we have so many habits. In fact, you may remember in the book, I mentioned that Duke University found that 40% to 45% of our daily actions are actually habits. They’re things that we do automatically 

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without thinking about them on a regular basis. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Can you imagine if making your coffee in the morning was something that you had to think through step by step by step each and every day? The first time you used your coffee maker, you maybe had to pull out the manual to know what the different settings were or which buttons to push, but now you do it without thinking. You know the amount of coffee to put in, you know which setting, you know how to do it without taxing your brain, which is good, especially in the morning before you had your coffee. 

But you see, it’s a habit. You take the thinking out of it. But somehow when we decide that we want a habit, we want to be intentional with how we spend our time, it can feel a little clunky even though it’s 

something we do naturally. After all, we all have habits we want to quit, don’t we? So, it happens automatically, this establishing a habit, but when we try to do it with intention, it can feel a little difficult. But it doesn’t really have to be hard, it just need to be established. And when we know the four steps that we cover in the book, that helps 

tremendously in unlocking how do we get these established? And I think you’ll see that in the conversation that Brenda and I have. 

Now, before we dive in, let me tell you a little bit about Brenda. She has been married for 25 years with no children, and right now, she is in a big transitional part of her life because she has made the decision to step away from her regular everyday job that she’s had to pursue a passion for ministry. I’m really proud of Brenda as I’ve watched her for quite some time now, work through to get to this point. And now that she’s here, she really wants to build up some habits that feel good and healthy. And I think you’re really going to love this conversation that we have. All right, let’s dive into it. Hi Brenda, I’m so happy to have you on the show. 

Brenda: 

I’m really excited. So glad to talk with you. 

Tanya: 

Me too. Now, I know you had a question for me about habits. 

Brenda: 

Yes, I’m wondering how I can create a springboard that is fail-proof, Something that will always encourage me to follow through. Setting alarm seems to be my default springboard answer, but that’s not working. So I definitely need help. I need to drink more water. I have water by my bed, I have glass by my desk, I have a glass by my chair in the living room and I have an app that goes off every hour to remind me. None of it is working. 

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Tanya: 

Yeah, so that’s frustrating because obviously, you’re trying, but it doesn’t sound like the alarm is really doing it for you, right? 

Brenda: 

Right. 

Tanya: 

Okay, so I’d love for us to go through the steps for establishing a habit. So in the book, in The Joy of Missing Out, in chapter seven, we go through the four steps to creating a habit. Articulate the habit, identify the cues, define the behavior, and make a plan. So think one of the things when I’m hearing this question is that maybe you’re missing that first step, that articulating the habit. And by articulating I’m meaning why? Why do you want these habits, these healthier habits like drinking water? What is it about this habit that makes you want to establish it? 

Brenda: 

Well, I’m very dehydrated, and so my doctor has recommended that I need to get more water intake. And I do know that I feel better when I have drank more water. So just trying to get that into my life. 

Tanya: 

Okay, so I’m going to say this, that why stinks. Because I feel dehydrated, my doctor basically told me to. That’s not very convincing, is it? So let’s do a little 

Brenda: 

Okay. 

Tanya 

Right, I think this is a part of the problem is it’s why do you really want to do it? So you’ve heard me say before, let’s dig a little deeper because 

surface level why, a lot of times isn’t quite the why we’re looking for Because you’re right, it’s good. The doctor wants you to, and being dehydrated isn’t good. So let’s take a little deeper with this. Tell me about you quitting your job. Why are you quitting your job to start something new? 

Brenda: 

Because it’s just not fulfilling anymore, and I have always wanted to volunteer more. And so, I have the opportunity now and I’m grabbing it. 

Tanya: 

I love that, that you’re grabbing it. So what is it about this opportunity that you love? 

Brenda: 

That I am able to spend more time helping other people learn about the Bible. 

Tanya; 

Helping other people learn about the Bible. That sounds like a really 

fulfilling job, right? 

Brenda: 

Yes. 

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Tanya: 

So let me ask you a question. What happens if you are too sick to show up because you’re not drinking enough water and you’re dehydrated? How is that going to affect other people, these people that you’re wanting to teach about the Bible? 

Brenda: 

Well, they will be disappointed that I wasn’t able to show up. I might even have to cancel if I wasn’t able to find someone else to replace me. 

Tanya: 

And so they’re going to be missing out. 

Brenda: 

Yes. 

Tanya: 

Not with the joy of missing out, but they’re going to be missing out on learning more about what you’re passionate about. Is that right? 

Brenda: 

Yes. 

Tanya: 

So why do you need to drink water, Brenda? 

Brenda: 

So I can show up for the people who were depending on me. 

Tanya: 

And do you want to show up for the people who are depending on you? 

Brenda: 

Yes. 

Tanya: 

Yes, I know you do. I know you definitely do because I know you’re really excited about this new opportunity, and I’m excited for you as well. But that’s really your why. It’s not because the doctor told you, it’s not because it’s now good to be dehydrated, it’s because when you are hydrated, you are going to be able to show up for the people that you want to show up for. Is that an accurate why? 

Brenda: 

Yes, it is. 

Tanya: 

So when you think about drinking water and you think about articulating this with that why, does that make it more compelling to want to drink your water? 

Brenda: 

Yes, that somebody is waiting on me. 

Tanya; 

Somebody is waiting on you. And so let’s dive into the idea to have that next step. Identifying the cues. So instead of setting an alarm, which is quite frankly probably just annoying at a point to you because it goes off and then you forget and then it goes off again. Maybe you should, 

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instead of setting alarm, have you thought about setting a reminder with the question, why should you drink water right now? 

Brenda: 

No, I’d never thought about that. That’s a good idea. 

Tanya: 

Thank you. So that’s why I do what I do. 

Brenda: 

[crosstalk 00:08:59]. 

Tanya: 

So really associating the why you’re doing it with the cue, I think that will make a difference for you because really too, when you think about the heart of what you’re wanting to do, it’s really at the heart of your north 

star to helping other people, right? 

Brenda: 

Yes. 

Tanya; 

So if you can associate that cue with that why, we can make that go even deeper. So that would be one of the first ideas I would have when we’re talking about your cues. And again, it’s that idea of not that surface level why, but that deeper why. So let’s talk again too about our cues and thinking about the different types of cues. And the one I want us to focus on the most is preceding action. There’s lots of different cues, location and time and all those different things, but preceding action to me is one of the strongest ones. So something that’s already happening triggers you to want to do the habit. But what are some habits you’re already doing so you can have it stack them? So you can use one habit to springboard the next. For example, what do you do every day automatically without thinking? 

Brenda: 

Well, I brush my teeth. 

Tanya: 

Okay, you brush your teeth. So if you go and you brush your teeth without thinking, which is a really good habit, by the way, could you put your glass of water right next to your toothbrush so you drink your water either before or after you brush your teeth? 

Brenda: 

Yes, that I can do. 

Tanya: 

To be honest with you, that’s one of the things that really helped me with establishing that habit of getting that first glass of water in. So what I did was I made sure that my glass that I had next to my sink was exactly 16 ounces. That way, I knew right away as I was getting ready to brush my teeth, and I like to drink my water right before I brush my teeth, I knew I was having 16 ounces, which was 25% of the way to that goal of 64 ounces in a day. So what other habits are you doing 

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throughout your day that you could use as your springboard? Because putting the glass out, putting it next to your bed or putting it next to your briefcase or putting it next to the coffee pot, that’s not working. So, what are the habits you’re doing without thinking about? Let’s take the thinking out of it and use those to springboard. What are some other things you do throughout the day that might facilitate you drinking more water? Are there other things that you’re doing? 

Brenda: 

Well, right at the moment, I’m working overtime to finish this current job before I move on to my regular. So my normal routine is all out of whack, but thinking ahead, I would probably be fixing myself some lunch to eat and probably answering some phone calls from people. 

Tanya: 

Okay, so what if you associate, because this is one of the things, I teach people with getting some extra exercises. Every time the phone rings they stand up to answer the phone. So you can use the phone ringing as a cue to get up and walk around while you’re on the phone. Could you use the phone ringing as a cue to trigger you to have a glass of water while you’re on the phone? 

Brenda: 

That could work. 

Tanya: 

But thinking outside of the box, because I think you’re a little bit stuck in this idea of the alarm, I really want you to take some time and really examine the different things that happen throughout your day and then see how can I turn this into a cue that triggers me to want to start this habit. And I think too really focusing in on that why is going to help you. That when you drink enough water, when you’re on the phone with someone, maybe teaching them about the Bible or talking about this new job that you’re having, that’s going to make you want to drink the water because drinking the water makes you healthy enough to teach others, correct? 

Brenda: 

Yes. 

Tanya: 

So I think that’s a really big part of it. I want to take some time too to think about that third step of defining the behavior because it’s not enough to say, “I want to drink water.” | want to dig into some of those excuses you use to avoid it. I’m too busy, I don’t have time. What are the things you tell yourself that were the loopholes, we say, that you tell yourself that allow you to excuse yourself from that habit? Because even when we want to begin a healthy habit, there’s a little part of ourselves that’s willing to make some justifications to avoid it. What do you tell yourself that allows you to skip that habit? 

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Brenda: 

Well, I have this alarm going off every hour. So I say, “Oh, I can pick it up in the next hour,” or, “I’ll just drink more at dinner,” or, “The day is young, Thave a whole day left to get it in.” 

Tanya: 

Okay, so here’s one of the things I’m hearing. You have too many cues, because it’s easy to just say, “Well, there’s going to be another alarm 60 minutes later.” 

Brenda: 

Right. 

Tanya: 

So maybe if we make it more intentional, this idea of drinking water, and we’re talking about drinking water here, but this applies to whatever habits you’re wanting to do because I know you have some other healthy habits you’re wanting to establish. Instead of making it so that the alarm is going off every hour, I want us to set a reminder asking, why should you drink water right now? And let’s do it less frequently Because if you do it less frequently, if you do it once when you brush your teeth and then maybe once around lunchtime, once in the afternoon, and then you find a habit in the evening that you’re doing 

u can springboard off of, that would get you, if each time you’re drinking two cups of water, that’s your 64 ounces right there. 

Brenda: 

Right. 

Tanya: 

sol think that’s one of the things that really helps us is to really think about what are the excuses I give myself? And then let’s work to take those excuses away. Does that all make sense? 

Brenda: 

Yes it does. 

Tanya: 

Excellent. Well, good. Well, I hope this helps. And one of the things I’d like to talk about after we get back from the commercial break is I’m going to dive into the idea of making the plan and the three R’s we can really get this habit to really stick. So, I’m going to talk about that when I come back from this sponsor break. But Brenda, I really appreciated you sharing your question with the listeners of Productivity Paradox. So, thanks so much. 

Brenda: 

Thank you so much for inviting me. 

Tanya; 

Absolutely. As I mentioned, I want to talk about that fourth step for establishing your habits in just a minute, but first let’s talk about planners just for a second because today’s sponsor is my company, inkWELL Press. 

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Today’s episode has been brought to you by ink WELL Press and our 2020 collection of customizable and stylish disc planners. One of the things that I truly love about this disc system that we offer is that it’s completely customizable and personalized. You’ve heard me talk an awful lot on this podcast about how we need to customize systems, how we need to create a life that really works for you, how we need that flexibility. And with the disc system, we’ve got that. You can add pages, move pages around, you can choose the different layouts and you can mix and match and really make it work for you. 

And with the ink WELL Press planners, there’s so many extras already built in. Things like habit trackers, which help you establish your habits. A lot of what we talk about here on the podcast and a lot of those strategies and tactics that we discuss in the book are built automatically into the planners, so it works seamlessly with all of the strategies and tactics that we talk about here on the show. So go to inkwellpress.com to get your planner for 2020. Again, it’s inkwellpress.com. I promise you, you’re going to be able to create a planner that works exactly the way you want it to work for your life. 

Okay, so speaking of habits and making things work for your life, let’s get back into this idea of habits. And obviously, I think that habits are so important. In the book, we talk about the fact that habits really do take the thinking out of it. They allow our brains to really focus in on what’s truly important. Now, the key is, of course, establishing healthy habits or habits with intention. Things that we want to do on a regular basis to help our lives feel easier and even happier. When we go through the four steps in the book, I really think it’s that fourth and final step that really helps make them stick. 

And I think that’s always the struggle is getting to that point where they do run on autopilot. And that’s why I like the three R’s here in this fourth step when we’re making a plan, record, reward and redirect. And of course, I go much deeper into this with the book, but I want to touch on each of these three R’s and apply them to what we talked about here today. So let’s start with that first Rof record. So have you ever gone on a hike and you feel like, “Oh my gosh, I’m never going to reach the top.” But then you stop and you bend over with your hands on your knees trying to catch your breath and you just take a quick glance back and you realize how far you’ve come. So often, we don’t realize how hard we’ve worked or how much we’ve worked until we take a minute to really see it. 

And then once we do, we think, “Wow, I’m doing a lot better than thought.” And suddenly, we get a little pep in our step, a little dopamine 

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hit in our brain that says, “Good job,” and we’re incentivize to keep moving forward. And that’s a really good thing because we’re really quick to discount our wins. So, creating a way to record our success is really important. It shows us progress. And progress exceeds perfection every single time. Now, habits can be hard to track. I know, especially if they’re something that’s abstract, like saving money or making good eating choices. So how do you track something that’s hard to actually see? Well, you might remember in the book, I talk about the marble jar and how I use that in my classroom to track good behavior. One marble meant the students in my class had done a nice job of doing something 

like transitioning over to special classes or lining up quickly after recess. 

Both things that are abstract. So, we take the abstract and we make it concrete. One marble in the jar means you did good. Two marbles then, you had good twice. Lots of marbles in the jar, see where we’re going here? So, recording can be as easy as crossing off days in the habit 

tracker. In those inkWELL Press planners we just talked about. Each time you do a certain behavior, you can cross it off. That’s one of the reasons why I have that built into the planners. I want you to see the progress. Or it could be adding marbles in the jar. Each time you look at something online and you choose to not add to cart, you can drop a fresh marble in your jar. Or you could think about moving money over to a special savings account each time you don’t purchase. Ultimately, it’s up to you. 

But what’s important is that it should give you a little bit of a thrill. Seeing those marbles in the jar, starting to collect or watching your bank account grow, those are thrilling. And it’s exciting because it leads us to the second R, our number two, which is reward. You want to give yourself a little reward, a carrot to work towards. It makes a huge difference in our motivation. So, it could be something like once that marble jar is full, you go do something out of the ordinary for yourself. Or it could be when you have two weeks in a row in your habit tracker that are crossed off, you go do something nice for yourself, like book yourself a day at the spa. Whatever it is, make it something that you truly want. These rewards can help us establish our habits. And this has been proven again and again and again. And the best news of all is that eventually, you don’t need the rewards anymore. 

Once that habit has stuck, once it’s established, you don’t have to have that carrot, it’ll just happen automatically. But it really does help in the beginning. And this is why too, we definitely need that third R, redirect, because here’s the biggest secret to setting up habits. You’re going to stumble and you’re going to get off track. You know why? Because you’re human and because you’re not perfect. And that’s okay, but we do want to plan for that in the beginning. We don’t want to think, “Oh, 

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well, I didn’t run today, and my goal was to establish a habit of running every day. So I guess I’m just not a runner and I’m just going to toss in the towel and say, forget it.” Instead, I want you to think, “Okay, I got off track today, but tomorrow will be better.” We need to eliminate the ugly self-talk. 

We need to choose to speak to ourselves in ways that we would speak to our best friend. Had she gotten off track, I feel fairly certain you would never say to her the things that you are willing to say to yourself. In fact, I’m absolutely certain you wouldn’t even say those things to the person you like least in this whole wide world. So give yourself grace. Allow yourself to be perfectly imperfect because that’s what we all are. We are all works in progress. This fourth step in creating and establishing habits with the three R’s really is so important in helping to make sure that those habits we really want to cultivate stick. And as I mentioned, I do of course go so much deeper into habits and even how to break your habits in The Joy of Missing Out. So if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, 

what are you waiting for? 

Start 2020 feeling a little more ownership over your day. Feel better about living a life of intention. I can tell you right now, the book is going to help. And if you’ve gotten the book, I’m going to ask you to do me a favor. As I mentioned at the start of the show, it really does mean the world to me for you to leave me a review. It means a lot to me, but it means a lot to Amazon and it means a lot to Goodreads as well. If you’ve ever even thought to yourself, “Gosh, I like the book,” don’t hesitate to let me know. Or if there’s another author who you’ve thought that, don’t hesitate to let them know. I can’t begin to tell you how much those reviews, those comments on social media, those shares, how much those mean to me. 

Honestly, all I’m asking for Christmas this year is some reviews. And if you feel like it’s hard to leave a review because it’s maybe something you’ve never done before or maybe this is out of your comfort zone, 1 got you covered. Go to joyofmissingout.com/review, I’ve got a quick little formula to make it even easier for you or anyone else to leave a review for my book for, really for anything. It’s a really simple way to make leaving a review easy. And keep in mind a good review can be a sentence. It doesn’t have to be paragraph after paragraph, it can be one or two sentences. 

If you want to write more, that’s great, but really thinking from the heart how you feel about the book and sharing that, that is a fabulous review. And that is what I’d love to you to give to me for Christmas this year is leave a review for The Joy of Missing Out on Amazon and or Goodreads, 

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if you don’t mind. All right, I really do appreciate you and I appreciate the support you guys are giving the book. I’m loving this season where we’re diving even more into it. All right, I look forward to chatting with 

you again soon. So until next time, have a beautiful and productive week. 

Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox, Want to learn more about your unique productivity style? Simply go to Tanyadalton.com to take her free quiz and get free 

resources designed just for you. That’s Tanya, with an O and a Y. 

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