A habit is like your best friend. You do it over and over again, because it’s easy and feels right. But it can also be hard to start – especially if you’re starting an exercise routine or eliminating an unhealthy habit that has been plaguing you for years. If you’re having trouble developing a new healthy habit, these five tips will help get you started on the right foot so you can develop habits that will last in your life forever!
Identify your reason
Knowing exactly why you want to make a change is important. Maybe you want to get healthier because you want to lose weight and boost your energy levels. Or, maybe it’s because you don’t like feeling sluggish every morning and want to find a better way of getting through your day. Identify exactly why you’re making changes—and how those changes will benefit your life—and keep that reason in mind when challenges arise. If your reason isn’t strong enough, then look at other options until you find one that really resonates with what you’re trying to accomplish. For example: I’d like to lower my risk of cardiovascular disease by eating more plant-based meals. It’s also helpful to write down your reasons so you can refer back to them later on. Get support: A big part of developing healthy habits is having support from others who are doing the same thing. Whether they’re friends or family members, people who are also working toward similar goals can be an enormous help in keeping up with habits over time. So, if possible, try to surround yourself with people who share your interests and goals.
Keep it simple
Don’t make your habit too complex. Adding multiple habits or actions to your routine is more difficult than just focusing on one habit. Instead, pick one area of improvement to focus on and develop a habit that fits with how you currently live your life. For example, if you are not used to working out in the morning, you might make working out in the morning your new habit. If it turns into a positive experience then over time you can add more habits or actions. But always keep it simple so you stay consistent and focused on achieving results! Track your progress: Keeping track of what we do each day helps us to identify our good and bad habits. Once we know what our good and bad habits are we can take steps to improve them. It is important to track your progress regularly as it allows you to evaluate how well a specific action is working for you. Some people find tracking their progress through daily checklists helpful while others prefer tracking through spreadsheets, journals or other means. Whichever method works best for you stick with it because consistency is key when trying to form a new healthy habit! Set yourself up for success: Make sure there are no obstacles between you and completing your healthy action/habit.
Pick something that works with your schedule
It’s easier to start something new if you are already doing something similar. If you are already working out, pick another activity that fits into your schedule and does not replace it . Something small is better than nothing at all. It should be easy for you to find time in your schedule—otherwise, it will be harder to stick with later. Just as important as finding time is finding an activity that works with your body type. For example, if you have a hard time waking up early in the morning, don’t choose an early-morning workout routine. Instead, try finding an evening workout that doesn’t require getting up too early (like going to barre or cycling classes). A good rule of thumb: If you aren’t sure whether or not you’ll do it regularly, don’t do it yet! You can always add more healthy habits later. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to make big changes right away. Pick one thing and stick with it until you’ve mastered it before adding anything else. Once you’ve chosen what activity you’re going to work on, look for ways to fit it into your daily life so that it becomes automatic. Don’t think about how much time it takes; think about what other things in your day would take up that same amount of time instead (such as checking social media).
Focus on consistency
A new habit is unlikely to stick if you attempt to adopt it all at once. Instead, focus on creating small goals that you can accomplish every day until they become part of your routine. So instead of committing to working out four times a week, vow to exercise once today and then again tomorrow and do so every day until it becomes easier. You’ll build upon each habit once they’re established which will help you maintain them long-term. Focus on consistency: It’s important not to set unrealistic expectations when developing a healthy habit. For example, if you resolve to work out five days per week, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to keep up with such intensity or volume early in your efforts. If anything like that happens, just keep going back—don’t beat yourself up over missing one workout. The goal is consistency, not getting everything done in one shot.
Give yourself a reward
A habit is made up of three parts: a cue, a routine and a reward. If you want to develop better habits, it’s best to choose one you really enjoy. For example, if you make an effort to exercise every day after work, you could add chocolate-chip cookies (your reward) as part of that habit. Eventually, by linking good behavior with your reward (the cookies), your brain will automatically make exercise-after-work part of your regular routine without needing any conscious effort on your part. It’s called operant conditioning and it basically means doing something good results in getting something we like. The more often we associate certain behaviors with rewards—even simple ones like checking Facebook or listening to music—the easier those behaviors become over time. Over time, we train our brains to crave these behaviors and then eventually they are second nature. That’s how healthy habits are formed!