Unfortunately, things don’t just happen, we have to make them happen. In order for us to create a change in our lives whether it is with exercise, eating healthy, being more productive at home, work, or school, giving up smoking ,etc. we need to make a continuous effort to create new habits and be consistent to see improvements!
So, with a goal and a small amount of discipline initially, you can create new habits that will require little effort to maintain. When making a change it is important to know your WHY! Why are you wanting to make a change? This will give you the strength and courage to keep going when things get hard or difficult.
Here are some tips for creating new habits and being consistent for a permanent change!
Set a commitment to stick to this new habit for a certain amount of weeks. Depending on the habit it can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 22 weeks to create a new habit or remove an old one. Breaking bad habits is harder than creating new ones. 4-8 weeks is a good time to form a new habit and to make it automatic. If you can make it through the next 4 weeks the habit will become much easier to sustain.
2. Make it Daily
This is where consistency comes in. Make it a daily habit. If you want to start exercising, be active every day for your first 4-8 weeks, gym, yoga, group fitness, walking, jogging etc. Being active 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 ongoing habits.
3. Remember your WHY
Remember why you started this habit change! Usually, around 2 weeks into your commitment, you could lose sight of what you want to achieve so place reminders to help keep your WHY front of mind. Try placing small visuals on your mirrors or set reminders on your phone to execute your habit each day or you might miss a few days. If you miss completing your habit it defeats the purpose of setting a habit in the first place.
4. Be Consistent
The more consistent your habit, the easier it will be to stick. For example, let’s imagine your goal is to drink 2 litres of water a day. Try setting smaller goals within the day and be consistent with them. 500ml by morning tea, another 500ml by lunch, a further 500ml by afternoon tea, and the final 500ml by dinner time. Done! (if you do want to drink more water try and consume earlier in the day so you’re not getting up during the night) When cues like time of day, place, and circumstances are the same in each case it is easier to stick at it.
Find a buddy. Find someone who will go along with you and keep you motivated if you feel like quitting. Set a consequence or a reward that is conducive to your end result.
6. Be a swapper
If you are giving up something as your habit, make sure you are replacing it with something else so you don’t feel as if you are missing out and when the change is proving to be challenging you don’t let your mind build resentment and you end up back at square 1. Let’s say you want to reduce your screen time which is usually the way you like to unwind and relax. Try replacing it with an afternoon/evening stroll, reading a book, or try meditating as a way to replace that same need.
7. Don’t be a perfectionist
Don’t expect all your attempts to change habits to be successful straight away. It took me many attempts to give up smoking. The important point is I never gave up trying. Try your best, but expect a few bumps along the way and when those bumps arise, acknowledge them for what they are, a hiccup, and keep going. Use it as an experiment. If it doesn’t work the first time, try again and modify the habit.
10. Remove Temptation
This is a big one. Willpower is a muscle that isn’t always worked, but we need it to become stronger, so if you are looking at breaking a bad habit, remove all temptation. Restructure your environment so it won’t tempt you in the first 4 weeks. Remove junk food from your house, cancel your Netflix subscription, throw out the cigarettes so you won’t need to struggle with temptation later.
11. Role Models
Spend more time with people who model the habits you want to adopt. Studies have found that having a fit and healthy friend indicates you were more likely to become exercise more and become fit and healthy yourself. You become what you spend time around.
12. Remember the Benefits
Remember again your WHY! Familiarise yourself with the benefits of making a change! Get books that show the benefits of regular exercise. Notice any changes in energy levels after you take on a new diet. Imagine getting better grades after improving your study habits. On the other side of the coin, be aware of the consequences of what will happen if you don’t make this change, if you are not consistent with these new habits. It may be uncomfortable but research the risks to your health if you are overweight. Your life expectancy for a smoker. It’s scary!
13. Do it For Yourself – me VersuS me
Change must come from within. Don’t embark on something if you are not 100% in because you WILL fail!
You must want to change your life for you!
You must want to start creating new habits because you want to improve. Don’t worry about all the things you “should” have as habits. Instead, create your habits towards your goals and the things that motivate you.