8 Easy Steps to Develop Healthy Habits
- You are more likely to form new habits when these habits are easy to do.
- The amount of time it takes for something to become automatic, a habit, ranges from 18 to 254 days.
- Think of a habit you want to work towards, such as saving two months’ worth of salary, going to the gym every day or journaling daily, then develop steps that you can build upon to reach that goal.
Did you know that January 17th is the day most people quit their new year’s resolutions and fall back into old habits? So, by now, if you’ve managed to hang onto your resolutions, congratulations, you’re doing better than the majority of the population.
If you’ve lost track of what it is you wanted to do in the first place, worry not, I’m here to provide some useful tips on how to get back on the wheel. This time around, with a little bit more guidance, hopefully achieving your goals will be a little bit easier.
1 . Know Your Habits
Repetitive behaviors that make you feel good can affect your brain in ways that cause habits that are hard to change. Regular things you do, things you might not even think about, like brushing your teeth, can become habits. Once you form a specific habit, it can be hard to change, and once that habit becomes automatic, you do it without much thought. Therefore, the first part of creating good habits is becoming aware of everything you do regularly. First, start by looking for patterns in your behavior in order to determine what triggers the bad habits you want to change.
2 . Make a plan
In order to succeed in developing good habits, you need a plan and specific actions you’ll take to achieve them. If you walk by the vending machine at work and buy junk food every afternoon, try walking a different way to eliminate that decision and bring healthy snacks from home.
Consider what you think you’ll need to be successful. How can you change things around you to support your goals? You might need to stock up on healthy foods, remove temptations, or find a special spot to relax. It’s also important to plan for obstacles. Think about what might derail your best efforts to improve your life. How can you still make healthy choices during unexpected situations, in stressful times, or when tempted by old habits?
3 . Do It Every Day
Here’s where it starts getting tricky, to truly form a habit, you need to do it every day first. Think you can do that? A study shows that the amount of time it takes for something to become automatic, a habit, ranges from 18 to 254 days. While it takes a long time to create new habits, the process happens faster when we do it consistently.
So start with something every day. You are more likely to stick with an exercise habit if you do some small exercises like jumping jacks, a yoga pose, or a brisk walk, every day, rather than trying to get to the gym three times a week. Similarly, if your goal is to have better control of your finances, pick something every day that you will improve on.
4 . Make It Easy
Did you know that we’re more likely to form new habits when these habits are easy to do? For example, you can start by packing your gym bag and leaving it at the door, or if your goal is to sleep more often, you can start by sleeping just 10 minutes earlier than normal. If a new habit is easy to do, this will go a long way to fitting in with your established routines, making it all the more enjoyable to do.
5 . Shift Your Focus To The Long-term
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but good habits take a while to form, your seven-day cleanse or 20-day challenge might be a quick fix, but it just won’t cut it. The key to forming healthy habits is through creating sustainable change. Consider behaviors you can adopt that you’ll be more likely to stick with over time. This way, your efforts won’t be lost, and you’ll feel the true benefits of change.
6 . Pick Actions That Matter
Every effort to get physically, financially or mentally healthy is meaningful, but some actions help pave the way to better health more directly. Think of a habit you want to work towards, such as saving two months’ worth of salary, going to the gym every day or journaling daily.
Then develop steps that you can build upon to reach that goal. For example, to develop good savings habits, I started by cutting out one takeout meal a week. Eating out is a big part of how I socialize and so it was impossible to imagine completely giving that up. However, a more feasible goal was to aim for only one dinner at a restaurant a week.
7 . Be Accountable To Yourself
Being accountable to someone makes it easy for you to do something. Whether it’s a coach, mentor, friend, family member, or work buddy, having others to report to can provide that necessary push you need to get stuff done. But ultimately you are responsible for your behavior.
There is no more powerful accountability partner than yourself. Rather than solely relying on others, set up a system whereby you regularly track your own progress. For me, my reward for going to all my weekly sessions is a meal at my favorite fast food joint. My punishment? Gym on Friday after work.
8 . Find The Joy
Healthy habits shouldn’t feel like so much damned work. If it does, then you’ll likely not stick with your new behaviors for too long.
Rather than taking some generic route, figure out what you can do to support a healthy habit that also fits your personality, and empowers and excites you. When you design your life around things you love to do – activities that are uplifting and fun – it will stop requiring so much effort. Once you find the joy in building healthy habits, that’s when the lifestyle will stick.
While cultivating healthy habits might be difficult at first, I promise you, the results are always worth it. There will be times when you might feel like giving up, but don’t, keep your eye fixed on the big prize and little by little, the impossible will become attainable.