If you’re anything like me, you’ll know how hard it is to build new habits out of the blue and then seemingly try to change your life overnight. In my opinion, that’s how I feel like the whole process of building habits is portrayed, whether it be fitness goals or mindfulness goals, all you get to see is the before and after transformation. It’s rare to actually see the transformation in process, and this is all something we really need to see.
In a few of my recent blog posts, I mentioned a before and after transformation in terms of being able to reach two of my main goals of the year, exercising more and being more mindful of what I consumed. Despite the advice I gave on these, it occurred to me that I never expressed these goals fully, I never showed how the transformation progressed or even all the little action steps I took along the way. Regardless of how many successes or failures you encounter on your journey to building new habits, always remember and appreciate the steps along the way, there’s always something useful you can learn from them.
In terms of building new habits, there are several ways you can accomplish your goals and actually implement them into your life. As with pretty much everything in life, some tips will work for some and not for others, the best way to overcome this is through trial-and-error, as they say, don’t knock ’til you try it!!
The reality is the idea of building new lifelong, positive habits is uncomfortable, we, as humans are creatures of habits and making somewhat extreme changes like changing the food we eat to waking up hours earlier, just doesn’t tick with us. But if we boil down all the habits we perform on a daily basis, we spend 40% of our time each day performing these, so just by positively implementing good habits, you’re already on your way to a much better lifestyle.
One way to implement a new habit is through the habit-loop, which is a system that goes from cue to routine to reward, and from this tip, there really is no escape.
For example, if you have fitness goal where you want to do cardio every day, it all starts with a particular cue, this could anything from a feeling to a physical object or a person. Next comes the routine which is the physical step of you leaving the house and going for a run. and then comes the reward. Ideally, the reward would be all the happy endorphins your body has released and the feeling you get of being pretty much unstoppable, but let’s be real you’d definitely want to use your favourite food as a reward.
Though there is no escape from the habit-loop system when it comes to forming habits, you also need willpower, self-efficacy and determination to see you through, this is somewhat a no-brainer, why form a goal if you have no determination or passion to see it through?
Another step to take is to pre-empt failure, this sounds a little extreme but if you take the time to reflect on the things that could potentially go wrong, you’ll find yourself much better prepared when failure does comes knocking.
Along with this, another tip is to make the goal a part of your identity again, this sounds a little extreme, but by making a certain habit regular it can be embedded into what you consider your personal identity. For example, recently I started meditation, pilates, mindfulness and consuming less negative content, and all of these together have become a part of me in the sense that, I’m in a better state mentally, physically and spiritually. It is now me and I enjoy it.
Lastly, one very important thing to remember is that when you’re forming your new identity and your new habits, don’t let the assumptions of others dictate who you are or even what you do. You are your own person in your own right.