Think of something you really want to change about your health, overall wellness. Something you believe would make life better. What have you been putting off? Maybe it’s that thing that you always use your favorite excuse to avoid. Got it? Good. Now let’s chat habits, habit-forming, avoidance and how to make a habit stick.
First things first, give yourself credit for all the great habits you already have. Do you already drink a ton of water? Exercise? Meditate? Floss? Get enough sleep? Yay! Don’t overlook the fact that you’re probably already killin’ it in a lot of areas of your life. We have a really bad tendency of focusing on all the areas in our lives where we’re “failing” and yes, I put that in quotes because your definition of failing is probably not actually failing, but, we can be so harsh on ourselves. So look at the good first, think of all of the healthy, constructive daily habits you already have. Pat yourself on the back, flaunt it, walk proud, be your own cheerleader.
Now, back to making that change. If you’re like me there’s probably something that you know would be so good for you but you just can’t make it happen on the regular. For me, it’s core work. God I hate core work. I can go a couple of days, sometimes weeks being so good and then…I skip a day, then another and another until it’s been 6 months since my last sit-up.
What makes some habits stick while others fail? Honestly, there are researchers out there that can give you copious amounts of data behind habit-forming so I’ll leave the nitty-gritty to them, but here’s the personal knowledge I’ve found on how to make a habit stick, for real.
Have Someone Hold You Accountable
Earth shattering, I know, but it really works. If, at the end of the day, you have to report to someone on whether or not you completed your task, don’t you think you’re more likely to do it? That’s why classes and trainers work so well, self-discipline is hard when you’re on an island.
Find support! Someone you can rely on to keep you honest.
The Harder and More Annoying The Task, The Longer It Takes To Stick
Continuing with the core work story. It sucks. I hate it with a passion and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. So I believe it requires more time consistently doing it in order to make it a true habit. This article found that it took approximately 66 days for a behavior to become automatic, but that was an average and fluctuated based on the person, the circumstance or the behavior.
Personally, I believe something like eating more vegetables seems a lot less daunting than doing crunches so my guess would be creating an eat more veggies habit would take less time to make concrete.
Create a mini-habit
It’s hard to go from nothing to everything in one day. Is there a way to break down your habit into mini habits? Want to pick up running? Don’t force yourself to run 5 miles the first day. Start by committing to one lap around the track. See how you feel. Maybe you’re spent afterward, maybe you feel you can do more, maybe the next day you run two, three and so on.
Look for Patterns
When I was meeting with my career coach last fall she pointed out a pattern I have when making changes. I take stock of my life, get super fed up with something (be it a behavior or a situation), literally, call it dumb, and then decide it’s time to make a change.
After she mentioned this, I paid attention and sure enough there was the pattern: become aware, get fed up, call it dumb, make a change. I went through this process when I finally took the Facebook app off my phone, when I decided to revamp my blog and when I did the 24-hour no complaining challenge.
Look back on a habit that’s already ingrained in your life; how did you decide to make it a habit? What can you learn from your past behavior and put to good use for change now? Sometimes awareness can be a great catalyst for change.
Find motivation in others
Why are those extreme weight loss and house flipping shows so popular? We all love a good makeover story. Find someone who motivates you. Someone who has made a positive change in their lives. It doesn’t even need to be someone you know, just someone who exemplifies the behavior you want instill in your own life. Use this as inspiration and motivation to make your own healthy habits.
Today’s Makings Of Small Step: how have you’ve made a habit stick in the past? Can you use these learnings for your next forming habit?