Every day we lead our life through habits – some of these habits need to be changed to enable us to become healthier and as difficult as it may seem – you can do it.
Whether it’s spending too much money, drinking too much coffee, eating the same food, drinking alcohol every day, drinking too much fizzy sugary drinks, not exercising – these are all habits that can be changed – but not all at once.
What is your goal?
What is most important to you – and what habit is restricting you from reaching that goal?…..start there.
How to change habits
Pen to paper – write down your goal.
What triggers your habit? Find a healthy replacement.
Every time that trigger occurs – use the replacement – i.e. every afternoon I would come home from school/college pick up and crave biscuits – I now have a protein shake ready for as soon as I get back in the door -change this one habit every day for at least a month for the healthier habit to kick in.
You are now asking – how do I do that when I have lots of habits that are not great.
Change only one habit at a time. Changing any habit is difficult. If you try to change more than one habit at a time, you are more likely to fail and then give up on all of it. Find the most important change and start there.
Write it down. Just saying you’re going to change the habit is not enough. Write down what habit you’re going to change so you can see it and read it each day.
Write down how you are going to implement this in a plan. Your plan should include your reason for changing, obstacles (what will stop you from changing, triggers(time of day, boredom).
Start small because habit change is difficult, and trying to take on too big a task will make it more likely that you will fail. Going to start walking each day – start with just 20 minutes every other day and build it up. Want to go to the gym – start with going twice a week and staying for half an hour.
You reasons for change – are they strong enough? You have to really understand why you are doing this, and what the benefits are going to be to you for doing it. If you’re just doing it to look good, this may not be strong enough of a motivator. You may need something stronger. Maybe cutting out fatty foods for you and our your family – means making yourself healthier, less likely to develop diabetes type 2 and also the whole family are learning healthy habits to prevent them from developing weight related conditions. One cause of obesity is environmental – i.e parents being over weight or obese and passing on the eating and behavioural habits to their children.
What are your triggers. For a smoker the triggers might include waking in the morning, having coffee, drinking alcohol, going out with friends. Most habits have triggers. Identify all of them and write them down.
For every trigger, identify a positive habit you’re going to do instead. For smokers when you wake in the morning – what can you do instead of smoking? Some positive habits could be: going for a walk, yoga, cooking a dinner for the evening, the house and more.
Become really aware of self-talk. You talk to yourself, in your head, all the time — but too often we’re not aware of these thoughts. These thoughts can inhibit habit change. They are often negative: “I can’t do this? Why should I bother?It won’t work anyway? It’s important to know you’re doing this and more important to change those thoughts into positive ‘of course I can do this – I’m doing this because I’m important – it will work if I stick to it’
Drink lots of -being dehydrated leaves us open to failure as we feel tired and crave our old habits to perk us up. Stay hydrated!
If you fail, figure out what went wrong, and try again. Don’t let failure and feeling guilty stop you from trying again. You will learn something from failure – and take that with you to carry forward. Let go of the guilt. Try again – you can’t fail if you keep trying.
Have rewards – regularly. You might have these as your bribes – it’s a positive bribe. Write these into your plan along with positive feedback from each day you successfully manage to kick those habits.
Remember 1 habit at a time – complete this habit for at least a month – if you have been successful and feel you got it and can handle another one – add it in.
You’ve got this