HALT: This mindfulness habit will strengthen your willpower, help you make better decisions and make practicing habits easier

 

Why do we struggle to change our habits even when we have the desire and commitment to do so?

One reason is that our ability to make good decisions and perform the habits that will help us achieve our long-term goals is tied to our ability strengthen (or outsmart) our willpower muscle.  

When our willpower muscle is fatigued, our ability to make good decisions is compromised. 

When we are stressed out, tired, overwhelmed, hungry, upset, confused or uncertain, it is much more difficult for us to make the choices that help us achieve our goals.

Think about it.

You are committed to improving your physical fitness, eating healthier and strengthening your relationships, but you've had a long, somewhat difficult day.

Do you choose to:

  • workout or watch The Crown on Netflix?
  • cook a healthy meal or order some greasy takeout?
  • go out with your friends or spend a quiet night in?

(Side note: Sometimes I love nothing more than eating pizza while watching Netflix. It's important, though, that I consciously make the decision to do it!)

When we allow ourselves to make emotionally-driven decisions because our willpower muscle is fatigued, we get further and further away from achieving our goals and upholding our personal commitments to change our habits, even when we have the desire to do so.

So, how can we strengthen our willpower muscle and make better decisions?

Mindfulness.

Being more mindful requires that we are present in the moment and take notice of our feelings and our surroundings.

This is all well and good, but noticing every little detail about the world and our day requires an immense amount of focus, energy and time. 

Instead of practicing mindfulness for mindfulness sake, I have found it helpful to have a set of questions that I ask myself whenever I feel tired, stressed or otherwise depleted, and I encounter a decision.

This helps me create a buffer between my emotions and my decision. 

The questions I ask myself are designed to help keep me on track practicing the habits I am committed to create and extinguish.

While my questions may not be helpful or related to your habits, I have found a general framework that anyone can use to create this decision buffer: HALT. 

HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. 

The next time you are about to make a decision -- especially one related to a habit you're committed to creating or getting rid of -- ask yourself:

  • Am I Hungry?
  • Am I Angry?
  • Am I Lonely?
  • Am I Tired?

Give yourself the time to work down the list, making a mental note for each of the questions.

Then, evaluate your choices once more.

Don't allow your emotions to get in the way of making good decisions!


What do you think? Do you have a similar practice that you use to avoid making emotionally-driven decisions that prevent you from achieving your goals? 

Leave a comment or feel free to reach out to me directly: bree@habitsatwork.com