6 Strategies to Create a Good Habit
Has staying in led you to create poor habits?
Do you want to change them or maybe start a new, healthier one?
Have you ever wondered when some people say “I am going to….” start exercising, read more, learn an instrument,… you know they are going to make it happen. But when you try to go after a goal, it’s a different story.
You might be able to stick with it for a while, but then, somewhere along the way you lose your motivation and quit. Habits are much more powerful than we realize. Many times we act out of what we are used to, what is easier, what we have done in the past, rather than thinking about making a better choice. A choice that might serve our higher good.
If you feel like currently you are in survival mode, then you’re doing what you can to just make it through the day. But it is only a short jump from survival mode to splattering into an irreparable mess. The problems do not fix themselves, so let’s try and take an honest look at your situation right now. The first step to creating a healthier habit is to acknowledge and become aware of the detrimental behaviors. Then we work to modify one of them by focusing on changing our pattern.
How do we do this?
1. Start verrrrryy small. Start so small that it hardly requires any willpower at all. For example, instead of doing 25 pushups each day, start with 1 or 2. Instead of switching to a completely new diet, add a vegetable to every lunch. Instead of going to bed an hour earlier than usual, start with 10 minutes. Instead of meditating for 20 minutes, start with 2 minutes.
The most important part of building a new habit is staying consistent. Do not increase your efforts until it has become a natural part of what you do every day. Always focus on establishing the actual habit behavior first.
2. Get hooked on your habit. When you have invested a lot of effort into a new habit, you are likely to feel it is more difficult to let it go. You can mark up a calendar with a big star or smiley face on the day after you complete your new habit. This is a good strategy because it uses a visual reminder of how much effort you have invested in your habit and you will find that the longer the chain grows, the harder you will fight to keep it going.
3. Make your intentions clear. Decide beforehand exactly when and where your behavior is going to take place. Try one of these strategies
a) If/Then: If I’ve finished my breakfast, then I will organize my linen closet.
b) After/Before: After I drink my coffee, I will go for a 5 minute run/walk. After I brush my teeth, I will meditate for 2 minutes.
c) Schedule your habit: Give your habit space in your calendar as if you would an important meeting or appointment. “At 5pm I will begin to cook dinner.” “At 9:30am I will take a 10 minute walk.”
4. Recognize your small wins! Reward yourself in a healthy way for making progress! An extra 1/2 hour reading your book in the afternoon, a warm shower with candles and your favorite music, giving yourself a fresh pedicure, laying down and allowing yourself time to do nothing for 10 minutes, sitting outside in the sun for a few extra minutes while asking everyone to leave you alone…
Experience your feelings of pride and achievement. These emotions will empower you to take action and continue on the path to success. A step in the right direction is important to acknowledge!
5. Design your environment. Your environment may be driving some of your behavior. If I want to limit my sweets to one cookie a day, and there are a plate of cookies on my kitchen counter, I will definitely reach for them more often than if I had stored them in the pantry. If I want to read more and watch tv less, I can move the remote to another room or I can put my book next to the couch. You would be surprised how you can do many things to nudge yourself in the right direction. Your family can be supportive here too and help you brainstorm ideas once you share what habit you are trying to break or trying to start.
6. Pre-Commit. You commit to calling a friend for a virtual workout, you commit to not eating after dinner every night for a week and declare it to your family so they help keep you accountable and help you stay on track to build your new habit. Pre-commit by using others to help you push through even when it’s hard.
For now, let’s focus on showing up to take control and bring one healthier habit into our lives one day at a time. If you would like more support in creating a healthy habit, or changing one that isn’t serving you, please consider scheduling a 40-minute Wellness Coaching session with me on my website at annpelinointegrativefitness.com.
In addition, if you are ready to jump-start an exercise program, if you are getting bored with your current routine, or if you are getting complacent with doing your exercises and want different, improved results, please connect with me on my website to book a 40-minute personalized FaceTime workout.
Keep taking good care of you!