Whether you’re on your journey to lose weight or are trying to increase your overall health, with a small amount of discipline you can create a new habit that requires little effort to maintain, and can dramatically increase your quality of life.
In our perfect world, everything runs on autopilot; eating healthy, keeping fit, chores, even work, gets done effortlessly.
If you feel the same, we have some great tips to help implement new habits into your life and make them stick:
Commit to Thirty Days – Thirty days is all the time you need to make a habit automatic. A month is a good block of time to commit to a change since it easily fits in your calendar.
Make it Daily – Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick. If you want to start exercising, go to the gym every day for your first thirty days. Going a couple of times a week will make it harder to form the habit. Activities you do once every few days are trickier to lock in as habits.
Start Simple – Don’t try to completely change your life in one day. It is easy to get over-motivated and take on too much. If your goal is to study for two hours a day, initially make the habit to study for thirty minutes a day, and build from there.
Remind Yourself – It can be easy to forget. Place reminders and set alarms to remind yourself to execute your habit each day.
Stay Consistent – The more consistent your habit the easier it will be to stick. If you want to start exercising, try exercising at the same time and in the same place for the first thirty days. When cues like time of day, place and circumstances are the same in each case it is easier to stick.
Enlist a Friend – If possible, find someone who will participate in creating a new habit with you. This will help keep you motivated if you feel like quitting.
Replace Lost Needs – If you are giving up something in your habit, make sure you are adequately replacing any needs you’ve lost. If watching television gave you a way to relax but you’ve decided to give it up, you could take up meditation or reading as a way to replace that same need.
Be Imperfect – Don’t expect all your attempts to change habits to be successful immediately. Try your best, but expect a few bumps along the way.
Use “But” – When you start to think negative thoughts, use the word “but” to interrupt it. “I’m no good at this, but, if I work at it I might get better later.”
Remove Temptation – Restructure your environment so it won’t tempt you in the first thirty days. Remove junk food from your house, cancel your cable subscription, throw out the cigarettes so you won’t need to struggle with willpower later.
Associate With Role Models – Spend more time with people who model the habits you want to mirror. You become what you spend time around.
Run it as an Experiment – Withhold judgment until after a month has past and use it as an experiment in behaviour. Experiments can’t fail, they just have different results so they will give you a different perspective on changing your habit.
Visualization – Visualize yourself performing the bad habit. Next, visualize yourself pushing aside the bad habit and performing an alternative. Finally, end that sequence with an image of yourself in a highly positive state. Do it a few times until you automatically go through the pattern before executing the old habit.
Write it Down – A piece of paper with a resolution on it isn’t that important. Writing that resolution is. Writing makes your ideas more clear and focuses you on your end result.
Know the Benefits – Familiarize yourself with the benefits of making a change. Get books that show the benefits of healthy eating and regular exercise. Notice any changes in energy levels after you take on a new diet, write them down.
Know the Pain – You should also be aware of the consequences. Exposing yourself to realistic information about the downsides of not making a change will give you added motivation.
Do it For Yourself – Don’t worry about all the things you “should” have as habits. Instead, tool your habits towards your goals and the things that motivate you. Weak guilt and empty resolutions aren’t enough.