We've all been there: Trying to give up old habits that aren't good for us and establishing new and more healthy ones. We read about amazing life changing transformation stories and get hooked right away, looking to become the next transformation story ourselves.
Especially around New Year's eve, many of us get stressed out by the huge pressure we put on ourselves, wanting too much in a short amount of time and not taking into account the many years it took for us to get where we are today.
Fueled by our initial motivation, we set big goals such as losing 50 pounds until the end of the year or only eating unprocessed, natural foods from now on for the rest of our lives, only to experience failure and condemn ourselves after some time.
The thing with motivation is that it’s not steady. There will be ups and downs, so we really don’t want to rely on our motivation entirely to achieve our goals.
Forming new habits is tough and it's surely not achieved overnight, so how exactly can we make substantial and sustainable change happen without failing miserably?
Here are the 4 tips you can start implementing in order to become a successful habit changer.
1. Start small
Set the bar incredibly low to begin with. If big goals hinder you from doing anything at all, start smaller! Getting started is crucial and you can build momentum from there.
If you're trying to incorporate more movement into your daily life to become fitter, you might start out with doing 5 push ups or 1 minute of cardio work. Don't try to run a marathon right off the bat.
Setting goals that are just downright unrealistic and too far away from our status quo often times proves to be our downfall. We feel like a failure because we don't live up to our outrageously high standards or surrender altogether as the mountain is just too big to climb.
Don't get caught up in this all or nothing mentality.
2. Make a schedule
Don't make any unclear statements like "I'm going to work out more" or "I'm going go eat healthier". Instead, be absolutely precise about it. Grab a calendar and write down the exact details of your new routine. What exactly are you about to do? When, for how long, and where?
In case you're planning on realizing some workout goals, this could be something like "Every Monday at 7 am, I will go for a 20 minute run in the park." As for your desire to eat healthier, you could set up a meal plan for the upcoming week and buy groceries accordingly.
Try to focus on sticking to your schedule instead of achieving certain results. They will inevitably follow if you're persistent with your practice. It won't always be possible to live up to your schedule, but that's fine as long as you manage to consistently get back on track.
3. Replace old habits with new ones
Swapping out habits can be more effective than just banishing the unwanted ones. Every habit follows the same pattern. Firstly, there's the cue, then the behavior that addresses the cue, and eventually the reward.
Throughout the day, try to raise awareness to the cues that trigger your bad behaviors. Then, while leaving the cue and reward in place, try to think of an action that's more beneficial to you and could substitute the old behavior.
Let's say you come home tired from work and have a beer to relax your mind. In this case, being tired after a long day of work is the cue and relaxation is the reward.
Leave these untouched and only replace the action of drinking the beer. What about doing 3 minutes of breathing exercises to release stress and calm your mood?
4. Set up your environment & cut out triggers
Get rid of as many triggers as possible. If you want to make healthier food choices but your house is full of processed and sugary nasties, you're going to have a very tough time doing so. Throw away all the junk foods and load up on whole plant foods instead.
Write little notes with uplifting affirmations and spread them throughout your place or have your yoga mat or running shoes lying in the way, so you're literally tripping over them.
There are almost no boundaries for your creativity when it comes to fixing your environment.
Now it's on you
It takes some time to strengthen new habits, but with these tips on hand, you should be well on your way. Be gentle with yourself and don't beat yourself up if you slip, it happens to all of us. It's what makes us human after all.
The important thing is to always get back on track. Start improving small areas of your life and expand from there.
Don't just focus on achieving certain goals as quickly as possible – Focus on creating a healthy identity. Having the mindset of a healthy person will naturally lead to actions that are in alignment with your personality and let you reach all of your goals along the way.
What are you most struggling with when it comes to unwanted habits? Which of these tips are you most likely to implement? Let us know in the comments below.