No matter what you do regularly, there will always be some point where you decide that you will make a resolution that will last forever to better your life. Perhaps you have decided that you will start that diet you’ve been telling everybody about for the past couple of years. Maybe today is the day that you will begin working out every day.
Maybe you have decided that you will limit your screen time to 1 hour a day (fat chance). However, you may have noticed that while you are excited to get started with your new resolution and turn it into one of your regular habits, you simply seem to fall short, and nothing ends up changing.
You’re not alone in this. January 17 is National Quit Your Resolutions Day, which means most people only make it a measly 17 days before giving up on their big goals. So, how do you create real habits that stick?
Here are five foolproof ways to build healthy habits:
First Off: Why Are Healthy Habits so HARD?
Unless you’re a caveman, you know what you should be doing daily to be healthy and live your best life. However, even though you know what you should be doing, more often than not, you are simply unable to get yourself to do it at all! If this sounds familiar, you have nothing to worry about, as just about every person on the planet is in this same category. While you know what you need to do, the act of doing it is merely going to elude you.
For example, you know how to get in shape, simply move more, and eat healthier. But why can’t you seem to do it regularly? You know how you should be exercising; just do something that gets your heart rate going. But why are you not able to do that regularly? While this will be a list that can go on and on, the recurring theme is that you cannot get anything to stick, failing to make it a new habit. But why?
The answer to this question is going to be pretty straightforward. Building new habits is just plain tough! Today, you are more than likely used to getting instant gratification for everything that you do. On top of that, your life is getting too busy to start an exercise routine or diet, and you just can’t seem to find any extra time to start something right now or any other excuse you can think of. Because of this, it’s hard to put the correct systems into place to make these changes stick.
On top of that, it is just human nature to bite off much more than you can chew, which is going to leave you to become overwhelmed and quitting before you can reap any of the benefits for why you got started in the first place.
While many things will give you the instant gratification that you are used to, exercise, health, and fitness will not be one of them. If you are serious about getting healthy, you will need to make eating healthy and working out a habit that you practice all the time. Yes, it is OK to miss a workout or two and eat something that you know you shouldn’t be eating, the number one cause of you not being able to build new habits is that you give up as soon as it gets tough. Some of the top reasons that most people abandon their new habits are:
- They are trying to do too much at one time
- The results they want don’t come overnight
- Life is busy, and their new habits are the first thing to go
- They get overwhelmed
Luckily for you, though, you are about to discover how you can quickly start building and maintaining healthy habits beginning now!
Know Your Why
Before you even think about getting started on any type of habit building, you must first understand why you want to build that particular habit. Essentially, if you are trying to change who you are, you will need to know why you want to change.
Why this is going to be so important is because if you don’t know why you want to do something, you are more than likely to quit as soon as things get hard.
To understand why you are making these changes, you must determine the bigger picture reason. Some examples could include:
- Working out to have more energy and reduce anxiety.
- Losing weight to be around longer for your kids and grandkids.
- Waking up early so that you can spend some time on the side hustle filling your child’s college fund with cash.
- Reducing screen time to get a better night of sleep and have higher productivity and work.
Your WHY will play an essential part in your ability to create a new and healthy habit in the future. If you cannot identify your WHY, you are just going to be doing things that you probably don’t want to be doing. When you can incorporate a much greater cause, you are more than likely to stick with it no matter what hurdles your encounter.
Before you try to start any new habit, dig deep and get to the ultimate reason you are even thinking about getting started. Now that you know why you want to build this new habit, here is how you are going to do it.
Identifying Cues and Triggers
Habit-building has three main parts:
Step 1: Find your cue, or what is triggering the action
This can be a feeling, such as being hungry, tired, sad, stressed, or bored. It can also be a time of day or even a person in your life.
Step 2: Expose the routine that you are trying to break
This may be some type of harmful action that you want to quit doing (such as biting your nails, smoking cigarettes, drinking soda, or any other behavior that you no longer wish to do). At the very same time, it can also be a positive action (such as going for a run, exercising, or reading a book).
Step 3: Identify your reward
Bad habits create false rewards that are cyclical and make us feel worse later. To build good habits, you will need to identify what your reward will be. When you can identify the prize, you’re more likely to stick with a habit.
Here’s an example:
Cue: You are sluggish and low on energy after lunch during workdays.
Routine: You grab a sugary snack around 2 pm.
Reward: A rush of sugar means a rush of energy (even though it doesn’t last long).
Here’s how you can reframe to create a new, healthy habit:
Cue: You are sluggish and low on energy after lunch during workdays.
Routine: You go for a 15-minute walk outside after lunch.
Reward: Fresh air and vitamin D! And, after sticking with this habit for 21 days, you’ll treat yourself to new shoes.
Always Make Sure you are Using Systems (Your Routine)
Your routine is going to be the action that you are regularly taking. No matter if you want to stop a negative behavior or start a positive one, you must address each with their unique plan of attack. To successfully do this, you are going to need to use systems. You can do this in a couple of different ways:
Use Environmental Hacks:
This can be making your routine much easier by skipping some of the steps that are needed to actually complete it, or even adding some steps between you and one of your bad habits.
Use Programming Hacks:
For this, you are going to need to add your habit onto your daily calendar, which will allow you to much more easily track your daily progress. Essentially, you are going to want to make this habit a part of your regular day. Just keep in mind that you are a product of your environment, which means that you can use it to build a new habit.
When you can modify your environment, you can shape it to be whatever you want. This can be limiting the amount of time you spend hanging out at a fast-food restaurant. It can be increasing the amount of time that you spend at the gym. Just do your best to increase the steps that it takes you to reach a bad habit while decreasing the number of steps you take to get to a good habit.
Be Sure Your Reward is a Momentum Builder
When you are trying to break any bad habits, be sure that you have assigned the proper reward for when you do. For example, when you drink soda in the afternoon, you get an immediate burst of energy when you usually are feeling tired. Are you able to replace that soda with any other food or drink?
The answer is yes, as you can switch to black coffee instead and then go for an afternoon walk. If you spend all of your free time watching television as it allows you to escape into a world of fantasy, are you able to listen to an eBook version of your favorite show while you go for a walk?
To break yourself away from a harmful habit, you must find what will give you a feeling of accomplishment and reward. As soon as you can identify the pattern you are trying to escape, the next step is just rewarding yourself when you can break free of that habit. If you want to start working out, as soon as you go to the gym for five days in a row, buy yourself a new workout outfit. Set small goals and rewards like this, and you will have no problem breaking bad habits and replacing them with good ones.
5 Habit Tricks to Try
Whenever you try to build a new habit, there will always be those days when you want nothing to do with it. You may even feel like going back to old habits. This will be especially true when you are just getting started on the early stages of good habit building. So, what are you supposed to do in these situations?
Simple! Don’t leave it up to you. Instead, rely on outside forces. Here are five simple strategies that can help turn your new habits into part of your life:
- Build a Support Group
Find a family member or a friend to start the habit with you. Building healthy habits is not going to be something that you must do on your own. Having somebody or a group of people build the habit with you will have more than enough support whenever you feel like quitting. For example, if you have a friend waiting for you at the gym, you MUST get there too.
- Combine Discipline and Accountability
Whenever you are unable to follow through with your healthy new habit, make the punishment of skipping it much more severe than whatever the satisfaction of skipping it gives you. For example, every time that you miss the gym this month, you are going to need to provide your spouse or friend $50 that they will then donate to one of the causes that you hate. This makes the pain of not performing your new healthy habit much more painful than actually making the new habit.
- No Matter What, Never Skip Two in a Row
If you miss one day, no big deal. Nobody is going to care. However, missing two days in a row has a much greater chance of turning into 30 days in a row, and very quickly at that.
- Don’t Choose Habits You Don’t Like
If you want your new healthy habit to stick, choose one that you don’t hate. For example, if you are trying to start a new habit of running even though you hate running, the chances of not sticking with it are going to be much higher. Instead, try to find a different habit that actually will get you the same results. In this example, you may want to consider hiking or rock climbing as opposed to running.
- Try to Bundle Temptation
This will take a habit that you don’t necessarily enjoy doing and combine it with something you love doing. This way, you are going to be much more likely to continue with that habit. For example, if you want to start going to the gym more, reward yourself with an extra hour of your favorite Netflix show, but only while you are on the treadmill. Believe it or not, temptation bundling is much more useful than you may think.
Start Small and Do Less
Now that you’ve discovered exactly how you can start building healthy habits, it’s time to get started! With that said, start by picking something small that you can build on. If you have a goal to lose 100 pounds, the chances of failing are going to be too high. But if you have a goal of losing 2 pounds per week for the next 50 weeks, it will be much more achievable and motivational at the same time. The odds that you lose 2 pounds a week for 50 weeks is much more likely than that of solely losing 100 pounds. And when you do hit your weekly goal of 2 pounds, it will help to motivate you and boost your confidence in your new habit as well.
So, when it comes to choosing your new healthy habit, you will want to do less. Choose one habit that you would like to start doing and keep it small.
For example, if you want to start a daily exercise routine, start by spending your first week walking for 10 minutes every day. Next week you can build on that and up your time to 15 minutes every day. Continue building on this until you are doing a full-blown workout every day. No matter what your healthy new habits may be, just remember that you should keep them small and straightforward, allowing yourself to get a daily win from it. This will be the most effective way to build a new healthy habit and stick with it!
Get started today! Decide on a habit that you would like to start doing and get started now! While it may take a little more power to get over any negative self-talk initially, you can build some momentum you should, have no trouble sticking with it.
So today, decide on one habit that you would like to change:
- Identify what your cue is
- Identify what your potential reward will be once you start your new habit
- Identify the new healthy routine you want to establish that will give you the same prize as doing the harmful habit that you are trying to change.
While your journey is probably going to be more than tough when you stay focused and follow the tips and hacks mentioned above, you will have no problem building as many new healthy habits as you want!
Check out our Health Pack to get you on your way to keeping track of your progress, keeping yourself accountable and ensuring daily health monitoring!