creating routines

I wrote a blog article about creating routines in Zanzibar earlier this year. I wrote about my struggles finding my way back home while I was living in Stone Town for a month. Although I tried my best to take the same routes every single day, I got lost as soon as my mind was absent for a minute. Now I visited Stone Town again:

First thing to do after I got there was to go for a coffee in my favorite Café. It’s called Stone Town Café and is one of the very few places where you can find good fresh ground coffee on Zanzibar. Afterwards I went for the Dalladalla place to get a ride to Kizimkazi in South Zanzibar. That was one of the same routes I used to take in January and guess what. I did not get lost. In between people tried to tie me up in conversations about selling me… whatever… a trip to the moon and I kept on walking without paying attention and made my way without any doubt. At one point I woke up from daydreaming and was not so sure where I was. I decided to just keep walking until something looked familiar. Soon it did and I was exactly on track.
Funny that I would not get lost although I had no idea where I was. Somehow somewhere in my unconsciousness the way home was saved. On full automatic mode so to say.

I read and wrote a lot about creating habits and routines this year, but to experience on my own again how powerful habits can be left me speechless.
Scary on one hand to see that all the negative routines we accumulated throughout our lives are leading us that much. Good to know on the other hand that as soon as we change a routine to a positive one it can be as strong and as automated as the previous negative one.

Just keep in mind, it takes a constant daily routine of acting always the same on the same triggers. Scientists say, it takes from a week or two up to some months, to create enough new connections in your brain to create a new routine. In Stone Town it actually took me almost ten days although I was practicing to memorize the route several times per day. And I didn’t have to rewrite any old behavior.

If you have any behavior/routine that you want to get rid of, make yourself a good plan to manage the change. Remember you can’t just stop it. A routine is always triggered by something:
1. Find the trigger so you know what makes you start your behavior. Then you can become aware of it when the trigger happens. You will be able to foresee the undesired habit even before it happens.
2. Think of a new behavior that you would like to do when the trigger appears.
3. Make sure the desired behavior would be good for yourself and your future self (just ask yourself that question and you should think a very direct YES without any buts)
4. Bring yourself in a situation when the trigger appears and actively act with your new behavior. Test it several times so you know what to do.
5. If you fail when the trigger appears in real life, make sure you know you failed, go back to point 3.
6. Actively work on it for at least some weeks.
7. Do it daily!

Good luck and enjoy the better version of yourself.

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