7 steps for making habits stick
You know those people, the ones who say are they are going to get something done, and get it done?
They say, ”I’m going to…” start exercising, eat healthy, get organised, read more, etc., an you know that they’re going to make it happen.
But when you try to go after similar goals, it’s a different story. Its so easy to get discouraged, lose your motivation and quit.
Sticking to a new health and fitness regime is a challenge and can be even tougher in the winter when it's cold and dark. Especially with The Beast From The East extending his stay!
Some research shows it can actually takes an average of two months (not 21 days as we all think) to make a new habit stick, and sometimes it can take even longer. But don't let this stop you!
So how can you make your healthy habits stick?
Here are a few small changes you can make in your day to day life to help these become second nature.
1. Find out what it is that is really stopping you.
Thinking about potential failure might not seem like the best motivational tactic, but the truth is, no matter how committed you are to make healthy changes, you may have to face certain hurdles again…and again.
Changing your routine requires a lot commitment and will power. Try focussing on the bare necessities.
If you can identify a "bad" habit and figure out what triggers it, you're already winning.
2. Start Really Small
So many people want to create big changes as quickly as possible.
They want to switch to a healthy diet overnight, go from never being in the gym to at least an hour a day every week, and meditate for 20 minutes every day even though they've barely managed 5 minutes in the past.
The problem here, of course, is that this requires a tremendous amount of willpower. There is so much research showing that willpower works a lot like a muscle. Use it a lot, it will get tired. And when it does, the chances of quitting are greater. Healthy habits are for life, so start small.
Read for 2 minutes before bed instead of an hour. Do 5 sit ups, rather than 100. You'll feel silly not doing it, and you'll gradually feel like doing more.
3. Set visual goals
There's a much better chance of sticking to new habits if they're visual.
"SMART" goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based, are definitely going to help.
Starting with a small goal that can be measured will begin to create instinct and success.
So, get a calendar, put a marker next to it, and get to work on your habit. Your only job next is to not break the chain. It's time to get motivated!
4. Celebrate Your Small Wins
If you’re like many people, you’re more talented at beating yourself up for a bad day or thing than you are at rewarding yourself for a good one. That’s a shame, celebrating your progress is crucial for your motivation.
Reward yourself. Have something to look forward to. It makes these small changes easier to stick to when you’re feeling a lacking a little motivation.
5. Surround Yourself With Supporters
The people around us have a surprisingly big impact on our behaviour.
Think about a goal you have… who supports that goal? Who pushes you to achieve that goal when you might feel like giving up? My guess is your family or friends.
Friends don’t need to necessarily share the same goals as you in order to be encouraging. Your best friend might not know much about nutrition and exercise but can most definitely cheer you on when you’re trying to lose weight.
But if you’re lucky enough to have a friend or family member who’s chased a similar goal, or who has some knowledge in this area, don’t ever be anxious to ask them for advice. Sharing is caring!
6. Document your progress
But remember, this doesn't have to be made public. These are your goals and habits at the end of the day so no one needs to know. You may thrive from encouragement from social media or you may not. But remember it’s a really good idea to celebrate your successes.
This again will motivate you, and you can look back and feel proud of what you have achieved.
7. Trust the process.
If you are making steps in the right direction, and enjoying the whole experience, then you are already winning.
Use every opportunity to learn about your body. And remember to believe in yourself.
Self-doubt can only hinder your journey and your whole life experience. Be confident that you are making better life decisions and are striving for what’s best for your body, as well as your future health.
These healthy habits are with you for life. So trust the process.