Creating Healthy Habits That Stick!
A new year is here, ripe with fresh opportunities to cultivate changes for a more balanced and vibrant life. Why is this important to consider?
Research indicates that what we think about and how we spend our time determines who we will become. In other words, the daily choices we make and habits we follow are forming who we will be for better …or for worse.
You may have already set some “resolutions” for the New Year or perhaps are still considering what healthy changes you’d like to incorporate into your daily rhythms. Whatever your good intentions, consider applying these science – backed tips to help your new habits survive the long haul…
- Create GOALS that are MEASURABLE and EASILY ACHIEVED IN 2-3 MINUTES. Why? HABITS STICK when we FEEL SUCCESSFUL! When we succeed at something it positively reshapes the way we view ourselves which encourages more healthy habits. Starting small may seem silly but oftentimes people create goals that are unrealistic then feel defeated when they don’t achieve them and subsequently give up entirely. Want to avoid that pitfall? Consider modeling your goals after the following examples…If you want to work out more, consider a goal of doing simple exercises for 2 minutes 1-2 x/week. Similarly, if you want to include more healthy food options consider a goal of eating 1-2 vegetables / week. Small successes really do compound to create big, long term dividends!
- REWARD THE NEW BEHAVIOR IMMEDIATELY and TANGIBLY. Why? Our brains respond to a rewarded behavior by releasing This helps us FEEL HAPPY and creates a DESIRE to do the SAME BEHAVIOR AGAIN to receive the reward. It’s important to make the reward VISIBLE and TANGIBLE as our brains are encouraged by VISUAL PROGRESS which drives us to repeat the new behavior. Consider keeping a tally sheet, marking a calendar or a using a marble jar to keep track of your successes. Be sure to make a check mark or add a marble to the jar IMMEDIATELY after doing the new habit. This will help your brain connect the new behavior with the reward. After you’ve accumulated a week’s worth of marks or marbles you might reward yourself with something that aligns with the overall goal. For example, if your intent is to implement stress reduction practices such as prayer or meditation you might reward yourself by getting a massage, taking a luxurious bath, or downloading some new music that is calming or brings you joy. After completing your daily goal for a longer period of time such as a month, you might consider treating yourself to a relaxing weekend away.
- Make NEW HABITS YOU’D LIKE TO CREATE OBVIOUS AND APPEALING and keep HABITS YOU’D LIKE TO GET RID OF OUT OF SIGHT AND UNATTRACTIVE. Why? Our brains follow the path of least resistance so whatever is most visible and easily accessed is what we will innately choose. Therefore, if your intent is to read more in place of scrolling on social media you might create a special reading area or room and leave engaging books in plain view while keeping your cell phone turned off and in another room. You can also PIGGYBACK A NEW BEHAVIOR ONTO AN ESTABLISHED HABIT. This established habit will act as a CUE to remind you to implement the new behavior you’d like to establish until it too becomes engrained. For example, if you regularly have tea or coffee in the morning, utilize the time it takes for water to boil to pray, meditate, make a healthy lunch or do some simple exercises. Following this with your favorite healthy morning beverage can also serve as the reward for the new behavior!
Whatever new habits you are being encouraged to develop, know that you hold incredible power and freedom to change the trajectory of your life through your daily thoughts and the choices.
How will you harness this power to grow in 2021?
WANT TO LEARN MORE…CHECK OUT:
Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits: Tiny changes, remarkable results : an easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones. New York: Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Fogg, B. J. (2019). Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.