We all have habits in our daily lives – our routine of getting up in the morning, the steps we take each morning upon arriving at work and even the nasty habits like nail biting or procrastination. At this point, we all know that we can change any habit we want, but it’s always harder than you can imagine. For me, I have built myself around habits as a hyper-organized individual, but it doesn’t mean that all habits are good habits. So, how can transform those negative habits into something more positive? With a little patience and persistence, anything is possible, but my five favorite steps are always a starting point when I want to make a change in my life.
GIVE YOURSELF TIME
The average habit takes 66 days to build – 66 DAYS! Some false studies in the past has had us all doing it wrong, saying that the standard is doing something 9 times or for 21 days will build a habit, but these are all completely false. Recent studies have found that the average time it takes to completely change or build a habit is over 2 months, so giving yourself time to build the repetition is key to your success. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can;t change yourself overnight,
UNDERSTAND HOW IT WORKS BEFORE STARTING
Making a big change can be highly altering to your day or lifestyle, so knowing how it works is important. Looking to workout more and lose weight? Learn more about weight loss strategies and what may work for your goals first before creating severe calorie deficits and hitting the treadmill for two hours a day. Through a little research, you can find a better fitness journey that aligns with your goals better without wearing yourself down, like card cycling or weight lifting. Knowing more information on your goal is key to your success and creating the right plan around your habit building.
DON’T QUIT IF YOU MESS UP
Cheat day? OK! You can’t always live two months doing the same thing and it’s OK if you mess up or take a day off. Don’t do it too often or too early in the process, because it can possibly destroy everything, but recognizing how and why you messed up is important to mentally preparing for restarting. If you’re trying to build a habit around dieting and fitness, and you splurge on a little fast food for dinner, don;t see that as an ending point to your journey. Use it as a refresh button to motivate you the next day for that extra 20 minutes on your gym sessions or a few extra vegetables instead of carbs in your meals. Each failure is the beginning to a relaunch.
PUT TOGETHER A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL CHECKLIST
I’m the kind of person who thrives on lists – if it’s not written down, I will likely forget it and this has been a huge part of my process in building a habit. When I opted to go back into the full-time workforce, thinking about my daily nutrition was never an issue because I just had to walk to my fridge when I worked at home. Being in a place no that offers food that may not always be the healthiest was causing a riff in my fitness and nutrition habits, so I had to build out another habit of creating meal plans for my week and following them like a checklist every night when I made my food for the next day. Packing my lunch became easier because I knew exactly what to pack, but it also took the thought out of my nutrition because all of my nutrition was pre-calculated. By building my food prep habit, I supported my fitness journey to be an overall healthy person.
FOCUS ON THE LONG-TERM
Every habit should be a journey – something you want to permanently see or see for the long-term. You’re putting a lot of energy and brain power into ensuring that it works, so why waste it on just losing ten pounds now? Build out a habit that will cause you positive success for the long haul and not something that will wear you out quickly. Remember that fitness example from earlier? Hitting the gym for two hours a night, seven days a week for two months may cause quick weight loss, but you will be absolutely exhausted all the time and your personal or professional life my suffer from taking time out of them. Invest in yourself for the long run and make goals that are sustainable, like ensuring you eat vegetables as 50% of every meal two meals a day or doing an hour at the gym three days per week. These goals will not only support you better, but they’re more sustainable for your long-term success.