Goals are important. Actionable plans are even more important. However, all of these without creating healthy habits is like a castle built in the wind; it will come crumbling very soon.
Habits, simply defined as a set of behavioural patterns repeated regularly, are the driving force to ensure your set goals are achieved.
Interestingly, we all are creatures of habits. We tend to follow the same routine each day, like brushing our teeth and drinking coffee.
More so, habits are not isolated. I’m saying habits are not void or different from our behaviours. In fact, what differentiates habits from behaviour is frequency. Safe to say that habits are ‘automatic behaviours.’
Now, you’d wonder why it seems so difficult to cultivate healthy and good habits. The simple answer to that; it’s a lot difficult to unlearn bad old habits.
Interestingly, bad habits are the easiest to form. This is because, for every habit, there is a signal that triggers it. For example, if you eat pizza at 2 am every day, the time (2 am) is the trigger, and eating pizza is the habit.
Furthermore, habits are strengthened by reward. From the example above, the reward is the pleasure you get from eating pizza. The more frequent the signal, behavior, and reward occur, the stronger the habit. This is true for all habits.
Failures in life are either a result of adopted unhealthy habits or lack of established good habits. However, few people know how to go about creating a healthy habit.
That is why, even if you have wanted to improve your health, achieve a professional goal, learn another language, you may end not pushing through with it.
The good news; you can learn and unlearn habits; though the road may be a little tough, it is doable. Let’s look at five of the most effective ways to create a healthy habit.
Start by Taking The First Step
It is not feasible to learn a habit in a day. That’s delusional. An old maxim says, “Start so easy you can’t say no.” For example, if your goal is to start running every morning, do 5 or 10 minutes of jogging on the first day. Let the habit build naturally.
The problem with being too hard on yourself and wanting to get it all done in a day is that you get discouraged easily. Therefore, you should learn to take some baby steps. Do not think you can achieve it all in a short period. Have a long term focus!
Plan Your Habits Well
Many people end up not pushing through with the resolution of learning a healthy habit because they are not precise enough. They just stay in the thin air, “I want to start going to the gym,” etc., but they are not detailed enough with it.
Instead of saying, “Tomorrow I’m going to run,” say instead, “Tomorrow I will wake up at 6 am, and I’m going to run 5 minutes.” Be a lot more precise when planning your habit.
Establish A Routine
Remember that while creating a new habit, excuses will come to mind to return to your previous behavior. For example, “I will do it later,” “today I am feeling lazy,” etc. To avoid this, draw up a program and keep everything at hand in case the excuses return.
Therefore, if you want to enjoy the benefits of meditation, you can prepare your quiet space the night before. Also, if you want to run, prepare your sports clothes from the previous evening. If necessary, put your phone on silent mode and avoid distractions to focus better.
Always create a conducive environment for learning the habit.
Always Set A Reminder
We are humans, and we tend to forget things easily. We just need some things to remind us always.
Introduce specific tasks. If your phone rings at 6 am, it can be written: “time to go running.” On the other hand, you can leave a few notes at some strategic places in the house – such as mirrors or the dining room-to remind you of your tasks.
Keep A Record and Reward Yourself
When you get your program started and you learn a new habit, you will observe how healthy this change is in your life. This will then maintain a higher level of motivation.
And don’t forget to reward yourself; It could be with a bottle of wine, going to the cinema, or buying yourself nice jewellery. Such acts will keep you motivated and sustain your habits for a long time.
Keep in mind that replacing old habits, or simply acquiring new habits, begins with changing certain beliefs that stand in the way. More so, habit is not about perfection. If you stumble off the track, which you will, don’t be too hard on yourself. You don’t have to be 100% perfect. You only have to be consistent with it.
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Tarnya Coley- Personal Development Coach