Adrienne Herbert, better known as Adrienne LDN, is a wellness professional known for her high-energy lifestyle, her boundless motivation, her can-do attitude – and her hit podcast Power Hour. Her debut book of the same name Power Hour, is here to give you the energetic inspiration and practical guidance you need to achieve your goals in 2021. A must-read for the new year, Power Hour is full of motivating tools and actionable advice that will help you to make the year ahead your best yet.
In this exclusive extract, Adrienne reveals her failsafe three-step method to forming good habits while simultaneously eliminating the bad ones, just in time to apply them to your New Year’s Resolutions…
Three steps to creating powerful habits, by Adrienne Herbert
When it comes to creating your own powerful habits, I believe there are three steps you need to take.
Step one: Assess your current daily habits.
Assign them as either ‘useful’ or ‘non-useful’. The first thing you need to do is figure out what your current habits are, and whether they are useful or non-useful. Think of this as Marie Kondo-ing your habit wardrobe.
Take a blank piece of paper or a notebook and write down what you actually do in an average day. Break it down hour by hour, and make sure to note down everything. Be really honest, and remember no one is ever going to read this paper and judge you. Don’t even judge yourself when you’re doing this exercise. This is not about perfection or about making every single hour productive, it’s simply an audit of your time, which is your most valuable currency.
Look at the list, and ask yourself: Which habits are stealing your time? Which habits take more energy than they give? Which habits make you feel bad about yourself? These are the ones that have got to go.
On the other side of the coin, determine which those habits are that you want to keep up and maybe even do more of. Which habits are making you healthier? Which habits are making you a better parent, partner, grandchild, friend? Which habits are helping you create a life that you love?
Step two: Adapt, replace or recreate, new, better, more powerful habits.
If you want to make a new habit, a good place to start is by attaching it to something you’re already doing. This is particularly useful because it doesn’t require you to ‘make more time’. Trying to simply find more time in your schedule is not the best way to cement a new habit. Instead, just make the most of the time you’ve got.
For instance, if you walk for 15 minutes each day to the train station, what habit could you piggyback onto that walking time? Maybe you could use that time to call your parents or a friend, or listen to a podcast or an audiobook. Or it might be that it’s a good time for silence and solitude, to stimulate reflection and mindfulness. And it doesn’t even have to be on that big a scale. Think about the time you spend waiting for the kettle to boil. What do you do with those two minutes? Could you do some deep belly breaths to calm your nervous system, or some stretches? Attaching a new habit to your existing routine means you’re far more likely to do it.
When it comes to food and diet – an area where many people struggle to make good habits – it can be helpful to replace a habit instead of trying to abolish it altogether. If you want to drink less alcohol during the week and you usually drink a glass of wine (or two) after dinner in the evening, try replacing it with sparkling water or a non-alcoholic G&T instead. This way, you can still continue to enjoy the daily ritual, and reduce your alcohol intake at the same time.
It’s important to think about how you want to implement your new habits. Do you like to break things down and introduce changes gradually, or do you prefer to make a 180-degree pivot overnight? Everyone is different and it doesn’t matter which way you decide to do it, but you need to be mindful and pick the one that is going to set you up for success.
Lastly, consider how many new habits you want to introduce at the same time. Making changes to our behaviour can be really hard, and too much too soon can often be overwhelming. No doubt you will resist the changes at first, and later on you might even find ways to self-sabotage, so make sure you pick the habits that are going to make the biggest impact, and focus on those in the first instance.
Step three: Add friction: make bad habits harder to choose.
Let’s say one of your non-useful habits is scrolling through social media apps. It often takes up a lot of time – commuting on the train, waiting in line for a coffee, lying on the sofa in the evening – and you’ve decided you want to reduce your daily usage. The way to do that is to add friction to the process, and make it something that requires more effort. You could, for example, change the settings on your phone so that you are required to enter your password every time you open the app. It’s a small change, but entering your password will force you to pause for a moment, meaning opening the app is no longer an automatic habit but an intentional decision. Are you going to enter your password 20 times per day? It’s very likely that by adding this small step of friction, your screen time will be reduced.
Similarly, adding friction to your food and exercise habits is a great way to make it easier to choose the useful habit. As obvious as it sounds, if you want to improve your diet and eat less junk food, you have to make sure that you don’t have junk food in the house. It really is that simple. After dinner, when you’re searching the kitchen for something sweet, if the ice cream is there then you’re going to have to call on that willpower muscle again. If there is no ice cream in the house and you really want it, you’re going to have to walk or drive to a shop to get it. Add friction and put the non-useful habit a little bit further out of reach.