We are all creatures of habit. We tend to wake up at the same time each day, brush our teeth, have morning coffee and commute to work, following the same patterns every day. So why is it so hard to form new healthy habits?
Many times, we try to create healthy habits the wrong way. We make big resolutions without taking the small steps needed to set ourselves up for success. By changing the way that you approach and incorporate healthy habits, you can establish healthy habits that you can maintain for a lifetime.
Stack your habits
The best way to form a new habit is to tie it to an existing habit. Look for patterns in your day and think about how you can use existing habits to create new, positive ones. For many of us, our morning routine is the strongest but many of us fall into end-of-the-day patterns as well.
Big behavior changes require a high level of motivation that most often cannot be sustained. Start with small habits to make the new habit as easy as possible in the beginning. A daily walk, for example, could be the beginning of an exercise habit.
Do it every day
The amount of time it takes for a task to become automatic, or a habit, takes an average of 66 days according to the European Journal of Social Psychology. Yes, habits take a long time to create, but they form faster when we do them more often.
Make it easy
Clearing away the obstacles that may stand in our way can help in creating new habits. Packing your gym bag and leaving it your car is one example of this. Reducing any type of “friction” will make forming new habits easier and more convenient.
Some rewards, like weight loss or the physical changes from exercise, take longer to show up. Building in some immediate rewards can help you form the new habit.
Remember, it’s not about willpower and it’s not about perfection. It’s about progress. Good habits happen when we set ourselves up for success.
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