7 Steps to Creating Good Habits (and Keeping them Forever)
A couple of years ago I read an article that talked about motivation versus habit. The basic premise was that there’s a perception that fit people are more motivated than unfit people, when in fact, fit people have just created good habits – healthy habits. I actually couldn’t agree more.
Think about this: you clean your teeth twice a day, every day. It’s a habit, and you do it because it’s good for your health, your hygiene and it makes you feel fresh. Now imagine not cleaning your teeth twice a day. How does that make you feel? Uncomfortable, I’m guessing. Maybe a little bit gross? That’s the same feeling I (and I’m guessing a lot of other fit people) get when I think about not exercising.
But how do you actually go out and create those good habits? Well, I’m glad you asked! Here are my top seven tips for doing just that – I’ve given examples relating to fitness, but realistically you can use them for any good habits you’re looking to create.
7 Ways to Create Good Habits (and Keep them Forever)
1. Figure out what your ‘why’ is and write it down
Do you want to lose 10kg for health reasons? Have you always wanted to run a marathon? Do you want to coach your child’s football team? Once you figure out what your driver is, write it down and refer back to it whenever you’re losing sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
2. Start simple
If you haven’t exercised since year nine PD/H/PE, setting yourself the goal of working out for an hour, seven days a week is not only unrealistic, it’s setting yourself up to fail. Instead, focus on four good quality, 20-45 minute workouts per week.
3. Be adaptable
If you’ve pencilled in a run for Wednesday but Mother Nature had other ideas, don’t give up – switch your run for a bodyweight workout in your living room. Doing something is better than nothing!
4. Be forgiving
Bumps in the road are a given, it’s how you deal with the bumps that matters. If you snooze your alarm and miss your workout, avoid a shame spiral that starts with breakfast ice-cream and end with a packet of TimTams for dinner and just schedule in a night workout instead!
5. Enlist help
Never be afraid to ask for help – the people who love you want you to succeed. Talk to your partner/parents/friends about what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it. Ask them to help you out when the going gets tough – this could be as simple as reminding you of your ‘whys’, or who knows; maybe they’ll want to actually participate with you.
6. When in doubt, consult your feelings
Ask yourself ‘how will I feel once I’ve completed this task?’ and ‘how will I feel if I don’t complete this task?’ Emotions are an incredible driver of change. Let yourself feel the positivity in making the right choice, and the negativity associated with the wrong one.
7. Don’t grow complacent
Even after you’ve created a habit, there will be times when bed is a more appealing option than the gym or when chocolate is more appealing than vegetables. Make the wrong choice too often and you’ll find yourself in danger of falling back into bad habits.
What are the best health-related habits you’ve created and how did you create them?