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H is for Habit - An A-Z Guide to Resilience

Photo: Agonda, India, 2020.

In one minute, this post will show you how to form incredible habits.

As a burnout keynote speaker I often say that the key to resilience is breaking dysfunctional coping mechanisms that have becoming habitual, and replacing them with habitual interventions that increase our capacity.

This means reigning in addictions (alcohol, sugar, smoking, caffeine, social media and work emails) that temporarily soothe us and replacing them with less immediately rewarding intervention that increase our buffer (adequate sleep, nutritious food, regular exercise, fasting, mindfulness, cold exposure). If you just did this, your life would change dramatically.

As a burnout keynote speaker I always remind my audiences that the key to breaking and making habits is to understand that will power is finite, but that habits become reflexive with repeat practice. To manage this inevitable process, it's wise to make your commitments ridiculously small.

For example, I can have a really stressful day at work, then an argument with my partner, and could so easily let myself off the hook. But as I've only committed to doing three minutes of meditation before bed (which always ends up being longer), I can keep this habit formation on track. If my commitment was to meditate for twenty mins, I'd be done for.

It takes time and patience so we have to see habit formation as a series of consistent micro steps that act like compound interest, accruing wealth over time. Bit by bit, we install the habit until it becomes reflexive and effortless. This learning is a key component to the resilience training I offer as a burnout keynote speaker.

Truly resilient people master what is called meta habit formation. They have built the habit of continually making habits over their lifetime. Having a repeat protocol for habit formation makes this achievable. The most evidenced based protocol I've found comes from Dr Andrew Huberman at the Stanford School of Medicine:

  • Choose 6 new habits that you want to perform every day for 21 days

  • The expectation is that you will only complete 4-5 of them each day. If you miss a day, don't worry. Just get back on the horse.

  • After 21 days, monitor for a week which you can naturally maintain and which habits you haven't locked in.

  • Deliberately commit to a new 21 day cycle, sweeping up the habits which haven't become automatic. Don't add more habits to your stack until you've locked the initial ones in.

To discuss me speaking to your organisation for Mental Health Awareness Week (May 10-16th) book a time with me here:

This is an A-Z guide to showcase some unfamiliar concepts in resilience, originally shared on my LinkedIn and inspired by day-to-day insights from my own experience with burnout and my work as a burnout keynote speaker. Also is this series: A (is for Auto-Regulation),B (is for the Breath), C (is for Coping), D (is for (the far side of) Despair), E (is for Endurance), F (is for Forgiveness), F (is for Family) and G (is for God).

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