As the new year is just around the corner, our thoughts tend to turn towards what we want to change in our lives, so here are my top 5 tips to forming new habits that will actually stick past January.
1. Find out your BIG WHY
For example, if you want to lose weight, you may start off with saying that your ‘why’ is because your clothes feel too tight and you want to fit back into them comfortably.
Although, underneath that, perhaps you’ve been hiding away because of how you look and feel.
So behind the reason of fitting into your clothes comfortably, losing weight would lead to feeling more confident and more content – perhaps removing any guilt or shame you have about yourself, which means you’ll put yourself out there to build your business, find new love, socialise more etc. To change your life drastically.
Finding out your most important why is what will keep your motivation high.
Write out your big why and keep it somewhere accessible for easy reference.
2. Create a habit that’s achievable and takes less than 10-15 minutes of your time each day.
The point of this habit is to actually be able to achieve it based on where you are now.
So if wanting to get fit is your goal, and you’re planning to start exercising, perhaps you want to start with 15 minutes of ‘movement’ – like a 15-minute walk vs buying a gym membership and booking up month’s worth of gym classes.
This way, you’ll have little excuse not to do your habit each day – and the process will feel more enjoyable.
Challenge yourself a little without feeling too uncomfortable.
This will signal to your brain that the experience was enjoyable and that it’s safe to repeat again.
If you start a gruelling health programme from day 1, chances are it won’t last that long.
Your brain won’t allow you to repeat a form of torture!
The same if you’re transitioning from an unhealthy diet to a clean, raw food diet in 1 week.
Your brain needs to take some time to become familiar with what is currently unfamiliar (this is why diets don’t work, along with not addressing the emotional attachment we have to certain foods).
Take it one meal at a time.
Play the slow game and you’ll have far greater chances of success.
3. Attach your new habit to a cluster of habits you already have.
For example, 15 minutes of exercise before you shower in the morning, or making yourself a healthy breakfast/lunch once you’ve finished getting ready for the day.
4. Create positive anchors
As we walk through most of our days on autopilot, anchors are a great tool to prompt you to do your new habit and remind you of your goal.
Anchors should stimulate one or more of your senses, which will help you connect that stimulus to your goal.
For example, if you want to exercise because you want to look good in a bikini for your summer holiday, perhaps you’ll have a picture on your phone, computer and/or your bathroom mirror that reminds you of this (it could be a pic of a past holiday or one of you at your ideal weight).
Your alarm in the morning could be a song that reminds you of your summer holiday.
You might place a beach/coconut scented candle on your night table.
Having as many reminders around you as possible will keep you mindful of your goal and motivated to take action on your habit.
5. Aim to accomplish your habit each day, regardless of whether you’re motivated
This is why it’s important to make the habit quick and achievable.
Think about the habit of brushing your teeth.
You no longer consider whether you’re motivated or not to do it, you just do it.
Yet ask any parent what it’s like to train a toddler to brush theirs! It is persistence and repetitiveness that will get you there.
And yes, like with children, you might motivate yourself with the promise of a reward afterwards (something health-promoting of course!) 🙂
Finally, if you have a slip up one day – move on to the next day and keep going!
I hope these tips help you make life-changing habits in 2016.
If you need support on setting goals and creating habits that stick (while untethering old ones!), I would be honoured to support you.
Get in touch you’d like to chat!
Melissa is a naturopathic nutritionist and coach who helps exhausted women get their energy back. She consults with people worldwide via the web from her home in Melbourne, Australia.