Hi there, you're listening to the Habits On Purpose podcast, and I'm your host Kristi Angevine. My mission is to help you understand why you think, feel and act as you do so you can be more intentional. This is Episode 91: Habit Audits, Part 2. If you haven't listened to Part 1, head on back to Episode 90. Otherwise, let's get started.
Welcome to Habits On Purpose, a podcast for high-achieving women who want to create lifelong habits that give more than they take. You'll get practical strategies for mindset shifts that will help you finally understand the root causes of why you think, feel, and act as you do. And now, here's your host, Physician, and Master Certified Life Coach, Kristi Angevine.
Hello, hello, everyone. I am so excited to pick back up where I left off from last week with doing a habit audit. An audit of your habits reveals habits you might not ordinarily realize that you have. The reason awareness of your habits is such an essential piece to habit change is because you cannot change what you cannot see.
So often, when we're in the middle of just getting through the day, we have blinders on. We are in the proverbial ‘jar’ with no idea what the label is. An audit lets you see more of what you do when you're on autopilot and just getting through the day.
What we do on autopilot, our automatic thoughts, our automatic emotional responses, our automatic actions and inactions, these comprise our habits. If you're new to the podcast, you may not have yet heard me say that every single habit we have is here for a good reason, even if we don't like that habit.
Now, the reason for this is all of our habits began as adaptive or protective solutions to something and as such, all of our habits are learned, they're learned solutions. This is great news because this means all of our habits can be unlearned.
What we've learned from neuroscience, when it comes to neuroplasticity, is that not only can we learn new things, but when we learn new habits. We can, in essence, rewire new neural pathways in our brain so that these new habits become our new autopilot default. I find this premise so uplifting because it's a reminder that even the most deeply entrenched habits are much more malleable than we may think, and that is super encouraging.
But let's really keep it real, intellectual constructs are completely meaningless if we don't know how to actually apply them in real life. Which is why this duo of episodes gives you something really practical to do.
Today's episode, Habit Audits Part 2, starts with the assumption that you did step one of the three steps of doing a habit audit that was in Episode 90. Step one is to document your habits. If you go back one episode, you'll hear me discuss the details of doing this so that you can notice your habits of thinking, your habits of emotional responses, as well as your behavioral habits.
Now, the next few steps are as follows: Step number two, play investigator and look for patterns. Step number three, dig deep to find underlying beliefs that are fueling these patterns. Let me elaborate on both of these steps, and then give you a final way that you can reflect on what you found.
Please remember, don't overcomplicate this habit audit. Find a way to make it really easy, really simple. Otherwise, it will just be another to do that is looming on your to-do list and you will never do it. There's not a perfect way to do an audit.
So, after you have a general sense of how to do it, just start; start without overthinking, start without over preparing. Starting is what will get you over the inertia of inaction.
Let's start with step number two, play investigator and look for patterns. You already know how to be curious. You already know how to research and investigate things, so there's nothing fancy about this. Simply take your list of habits and look for themes.
Do you take things personally every day? Or do you just take things personally every other day? Is there all-or-none thinking infused into all of your habits? Or perhaps there's a perfectionistic rigidity or self-criticism?
Notice how many of the habits are soul sucking energy drains, and how many of your habits are actually quite uplifting. Maybe your habit is to acknowledge what you've done every night, and this habit cultivates gratitude and a sense of presence that you really value and love. Conversely, maybe your habit is always to feel a sinking pit in your stomach when your inner critic shows up.
Note any trends, and if there are perhaps downstream patterns that arise from primary patterns. Notice if there are downstream habits that come from primary habits. Perhaps you have perfectionism, and downstream from perfectionism is second guessing. Perhaps you have a tendency to beat yourself up, and downstream from beating yourself up is persistent guilt, worry, and catastrophizing.
Check in to see if there are similar sets of circumstances that correlate with certain habits. Ask yourself: What's going on before I do/have X, Y and Z? How am I feeling? What happened earlier in the day that might explain this and make it make sense?
For example, maybe you second guess yourself particularly harshly after a long day at work. Maybe you're irritable, and you jump to conclusions with your family when you've been running behind all day. Maybe you have a tendency to make mountains out of molehills with your children. But you don't do this at work. Or boundaries are easy with your kids, but they're not easy with your patients or with your boss. So, play investigator and look for patterns.
Once you’ve played investigator, played detective, looked for trends, looked for themes, it's time for step three, dig deep to the beliefs that drive the habits. The question you're answering with step three is: Given my habits, given my tendencies, what beliefs do I have about the world? What beliefs do I have about myself that make these habits make sense?
Now, how are you supposed to articulate a core belief about yourself or the world from a list of habits? Trust me, it is easier than you might think at first glance. What you do is, you sit down and you look at your list, you review your habits, review the trends, and just ask yourself: What am I believing about the world that makes these particular habits make sense? What am I believing about myself that makes these particular habits make sense?
Here's an example. Say your list has perfectionistic thinking and taking things personally. Underneath perfectionism may be the belief that mistakes are dangerous, and mistakes mean that you're unreliable. At the heart of taking things personally could be a belief like ‘there's something wrong with me. I'm not good enough.’ Behind a really harsh inner critic could be the belief that ‘others know more, and I can't trust myself.’
If you find it challenging to articulate a belief that's at the root of a habit, or at the root of a set of habits, here are a few prompts that I think really help. Now, there's no need to write these down, you can just listen. The ones that stick with you are the best ones to ask for yourself. Or if you really like to see them all written out, you can go to the show notes, where we have a transcript.
So, here are some prompts to help you articulate the beliefs at the root of your habits.
On a scale of 1-10, when I do X habit, how is my self-trust?
On a scale of 1-10, when I do X-Y-Z habit, how is my self-love and acceptance?
On a scale of 1-10, when I do X-Y-Z habit, how is my self-compassion?
On a scale of 1-10, when I do whatever habit, how is my sense of self-worth?
And lastly, on a scale of 1-10, when I do X habit, how is my belief that I will figure things out?
When you do this ranking system, you're going to get an even more clear sense of the ideology that's at the core of your habits. Now, here's a quick aside, you might also notice as you look at your habits that you have a lot of really nourishing habits that stand in stark contrast to some of the little bit more energy draining, negative habits that I have listed here.
Even if that's the case, which I hope that's the case for many of you, it's still really important to evaluate what beliefs are at the core of the things that you think, do, and feel that are really nourishing and positive for you. Because when you know what's at the heart of habits that you like, then you can borrow from those beliefs as you're changing other habits.
To review, step one of a habit audit is to document your habits in terms of what you think, do, and feel when you're on autopilot. Episode 90 outlines exactly how to do this, what to include on your list, the duration to do your audit, and explains more of the why behind a habit audit.
Then step two, play investigator and look for patterns. Step three, dig deeper. Go behind the habits and find the beliefs about yourself or the beliefs about the world that drive the habits, and make the habits make sense.
Once you have all this, you now have profoundly increased your awareness of why you think and act and feel as you do, and you can't unsee this. Occasionally, we can forget some awareness but it doesn't ever go way.
So, now, as you go through your day, because you see the patterns, you're then going to be able to anticipate circumstances where it's easy for these patterns to occur. And because you know the beliefs driving your habits, it's like a veil is peeled back. When you notice your habit, you'll recall, “Oh, this habit is coming from me telling myself,” for example, “that I don't know what I'm doing. That other people know better than I do.”
This, my friends, this awareness is what will open the door to change. Because you'll now see yourself differently. You'll be able to be curious about the habits and the beliefs that might not actually give you the experience you want.
That is how you lay the groundwork for a long lasting, sustainable change. So, are you in? Are you up for taking an unfiltered look at yourself? It takes guts to do this exercise and it's a little bit tedious, but the payoff is really big.
I hope this was valuable, and I would love to hear what you observed. If you have questions, or you want to share what this exercise was like, please join me on Facebook. We have a Facebook group called Habits On Purpose. Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a beautiful rest of your week and I'll talk to you next time.
Would you like to start exploring your own thought patterns and your own beliefs about yourself in the world? Are you at a point in your life where you're really ready to be deliberate with your approach to life and deliberate with your habits? If so, I would love to connect.
I would love to help you with the exploration and the application of the concepts that I teach. I keep a small private practice panel, and if you're interested in private one-on-one coaching, you can learn more about if we're a match by going to habits on HabitsOnPurpose.com/private.
Thanks for listening to Habits On Purpose. If you want more information on Kristi Angevine or the resources from the podcast, visit HabitsOnPurpose.com. Tune in next week for another episode.