Tuesday, 30 December 2014

5 Tips to Making Habits Stick

It's the time of year where many of us start to think about the ways we want next year to be different from the last.  I think the reason that new year's resolutions are so appealing is that they give us control over our destiny.  We think if we just can do that one certain thing, we will be happy with our lives.

I'm not sure I really believe that any one thing can make you truly happy, because life is a journey as we grow and evolve.  But I do believe that we all have the capacity to make changes in our lives that help up become one step closer to the person we want to be.

For me, to truly change something in my life I need it to become a habit.  If I have something that I need to truly make a decision about or to do (or not do), then there is the possibility that I will take the easier option.  But if I get to a point where I can't imagine not having that thing occur in my life, and I don't even contemplate not doing it, then I feel like I have truly changed.

Habits aren't the easiest things to get going, so I found a few pointers that I thought you might find useful.

1. Choose something you really believe in

It may sound like something you don't really need to say but if you want to change, you have to believe in the change you are making.  If you want to lose weight, it has to be because you want to be healthier for the rest of your life, or even for your family.  If you want to drink more water, it has to be because you believe that your skin and body will be better for it.  If you want to save for a holiday, it has to be because you want to go to a place that you've been dreaming of with people you love.  You need the motivation for change to be real and meaningful to you.

2. Start simple

Start with a small, simple change that you know you can achieve.  If you want to run a 10km race, but haven't left the couch yet, start with committing to walking for 15 minutes each day.  You can walk for 15 minutes, right?  So once you've done that for a week, and given yourself some confidence that you can do what you set out to do, then up the anti a little, to walk for 20 minutes each day.  Or to add one minute jog into every three minutes of walking.  Start small, and work your way up towards the big goal.

3. Create a behaviour train / plan

It's funny how when you repeatedly connect some behaviours together, after awhile you realise that one triggers the other.  For example, if as soon as you get up you put on your running clothes, it can put you in the frame of mind to go for a run, even if you don't feel like it.  Or if you pour yourself a glass of water to have with each meal, before you know it, you will feel strange if you don't drink water with every meal.  Your brain makes connections between activities, and you can use this to your advantage when trying to create healthy habits.

4. If you slip, get back on track straight away

We live in the real world.  At some point, you're going to find it hard to keep your habit especially at the start.  Maybe you decide to have 3 weeks alcohol free, but then realise that your friend's 30th birthday is smack bang in the middle.  That's life - not everything works out perfectly.  If celebrating your friend's 30th birthday is important to you, then just give yourself permission to have a couple of drinks that night, then get back into your committed habit straight away the next day.  Be real, make wises choices, but make them a decision, not an excuse to fall back into old ways.

5. Give it 21 days - at least!

I have read that it takes 21 days of repeated action for something to become a habit.  This means that if you commit to doing one thing 21 days in a row, you have a much greater likelihood of continuing the habit.  Even something as simple as having a chamomile tea before going to bed for 21 days in a row can mean that from then on, just the habit of having chamomile tea will be associated with going to sleep, and hopefully make you sleep easier.  But keep it up for 21 days at a minimum, and you're well on your way to a life habit.


What is your tip for making a habit stick in your life?

No comments:

Post a Comment