I don’t know about you, but I’ve struggled in the past to form new and healthy habits. I’m a great ‘starter’ but sometimes I struggle with the ‘follow through’.
What I’ve discovered is that it doesn’t have to be as difficult to create a new habit as my head wants me to believe.
Let’s face it, most of us want to change our behavior for the better and create new habits for ourselves.
This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier and drinking more water--or simply trying to practice being grateful every day. It could be moving more and taking the dog for a daily walk, or taking up yoga. Ask me about that one later--I’m on the way to a daily yoga habit and I’m loving the changes it’s making to my mood and my body.
There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits.
Getting into the habit of doing something is often easier said than done. We seem to acquire bad habits without any effort, but getting into a “good” habit can be a little more challenging. Why the hell is that? It’s like when a piece of bread falls out of your hand, I can almost guarantee that that sucker will land spread side down.
Back to this habit business. Let’s break it down into an easy to follow three step process. That way, we’ll come up against less ‘resistance’ until we’ve internalized our new behavior and made it a true habit. We want to create a situation where this new habit becomes something we do automatically without having to think about it, like brushing our teeth.
Decide What You Want To Do
The first step is to decide on your new habit. Be as specific as possible. Just keep it simple. Don’t think ‘I want to drink less coffee’. Say something out loud and specific like “I will have one cup of coffee in the morning and one cup in the afternoon”. Deciding specifically what your new habit will be and verbalizing how you’re going to do it is important.
Remind Yourself To Get It Done
The first few days of a new habit are always easy-peasy. You’re excited and your’re motivated to see a change. Your commitment to yourself is still firmly fixed in the front of your mind. Sticking with your new habit hasn’t yet become an issue. But after a few more days things might begin to slide.
Maybe Janice from down the road pops in for a chat and one more coffee won’t hurt, because it’s Janice and you always drink coffee with Janice--right? Or maybe you’re tired and feeling a bit under the weather and you know that hot coffee will just get you over that afternoon hump. This is when it’s important to make sure that you have a daily reminder on hand. Set a note on your phone. Stick a sticky note on your computer--or change your screensaver. How about writing your new habit in bright colour in your diary. Do whatever you need to do to keep a reminder in front of you.
Make the Change Part Of Your Routine Until It Becomes A Habit
Which brings us to the last stage of forming your new habit. It takes some time before a change in behavior becomes a true habit. Until then, you need to work towards incorporating the change into your daily routine. A good routine will enable you to put the new habit in place without having to try to rely on willpower--which so many times in my own case ended up being won’t-power!
Make sure you have an appealing herbal tea on hand--or a decaf coffee--when you have the urge to drink that third or fourth cup of coffee.
If you’re cutting down on snack foods, make sure you pack an appealing box of fresh snacks from home--or have plenty on hand cut up and ready to eat--so you won’t feel the urge to splurge at the cafe.
It takes commitment and willpower to create a new habit. Remember to reward yourself (with something healthy!) when you’ve achieved your goal. Practice the change until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit.