On the blog
Create a New Habit (and Overcome Setbacks) in 9 Easy Steps
WRITTEN BY HEIDI HAUER
We all have things in our life that we want to change. And guess what? We all struggle to do it! Facing challenges, resistance and setbacks when forming new habits is a normal, albeit frustrating, part of the experience.
However, working as a Health and Life Coach for career-driven women who are used to having everything ‘all figured out’, I regularly recognise the discomfort and self-judgment that arises when things don’t go according to plan.
That’s why I developed my 9 Phase Arc that illustrates the typical journey from problem to solution. Adapted from my observations and experiences of supporting others through change, the framework can offer two important things:
1) Guidance on how to make the changes you desire with greater ease and self-compassion.
2) A clearer picture of where you're at (and what is yet to come!) on your journey to change.
Meaning? It’s not a task you have to tick off! Mindfulness doesn’t exist on the list, it’s actually what helps you move through your tasks in a nourishing, relaxed, sometimes joyful way.
HERE ARE THE 9 PHASES IN MY ARC OF CHANGE
This is where you recognise that something isn’t right. You experience red flags that have become increasingly hard to ignore, accompanied by a desire to feel better.
‘Red flags’ may include things like physical pain, health concerns, continuous low energy, emotional hardships, unfulfillment or a lack of motivation and inspiration for your life, work or relationships.
Any attempt at change is only hitting the symptoms or surface level issues. You may be in denial about what’s going on inside you and feel attached to what you hope the solution will be.
You are now ready to consider new ideas and feel motivated to honestly look at what’s happening in your life. You are willing to be open-minded and search outside the box. You may already have an intuitive pull towards something you’ve been feeling or curious to explore.
A commitment to change may look like googling things, seeking out new sources of information to read, watch or listen to, and start following new coaches or experts on social media.
You are set on learning and understanding and ready to take action and further explore your new curiosities. You feel stable and confident within yourself to reach out for support or enter into new environments.
You may book appointments with doctors, therapists and coaches; try out new classes or social groups; invest in online courses or programs; and start confiding in people outside of your usual circle of friends.
You begin testing out new approaches and feel a desire and motivation for real change. You are prepared to take the knowledge and new experiences you’ve gathered from Phase 3 and bring them into your everyday lifestyle. You are being called to proudly claim what you’ve been testing out in secret.
In this phase, you may start implementing new routines; communicating intentions and boundaries to others; invest in new supportive resources; and/or start practicing the actions that you set with your coach.
This is where you start to refine and settle into your new routines and feel excited by the prospect of the ‘new you’. You become a little more flexible in your approach and feel attached to ensuring your commitment to yourself remains strong.
You may start making your new habits more personal to you and your lifestyle. Experiment with variations and variety and find creative ways to incorporate your new goals when your schedule brings potential conflicts.
This phase is inevitable and can happen at any point, but it is more likely to arise when your commitments start to form into new routines. Relapse is when you fall back into more familiar habits as you experience challenges and frustrations.
Your behaviour may become unconscious and unintentional because you end up back in reaction mode where you are simply being pulled around and influenced by your environment.
Due to your relapse, the flat, demotivating feelings that you experienced before are likely to return. However, unlike other times, you now recognise the pattern and get motivated to recommit to your goals and new routines, usually with a more long-term, realistic or gentle approach.
You feel wiser and start taking an open, honest look at what did and didn’t work in your previous approach. You recommit in a more aligned way.
Your routines have now become habitual and unconscious. You just do them without thinking and they have become part of who you are. Old ways of being are a thing of the past, and maybe you don’t really remember what used to hold you back.
You no longer stress or have to think about doing what feels good. Instead, you go about your new routines rather automatically and are free to use your energy elsewhere.
You are now experiencing a totally new perspective of life. The ‘bar’ has been raised and you feel inspired to go even deeper into your new lifestyle, or expand your self-awareness into new areas.
This is the phase after a habit change, where you re-enter the arc for a new goal or shift, this time with new wisdom and awareness.
So that's it! The 9 phases that I work through with my clients. If you’re in the process of trying to create a new habit, I’d love to know which phase you’re currently in! And remember, nobody can do it alone. If you’re ready to jump-start your development and get the support that you require, I offer a range of coaching options for all kinds of goals.