This months theme on the blog is healthy habits. Because really, that’s what we are aiming for.
That elusive time where healthy habits seem effortless.
They are on autopilot.
You tell everyone how much you love waking up at 5am and drinking green smoothies, and mean it.
Ok well I have some good news and bad news from over 10 years of researching health and fitness and experimenting on myself.
First the good news.
I have so many healthy habits on autopilot and it totally gets easier the longer you work on the habit. These base healthy habits however mean that I rarely put on weight when travelling or around the holidays and I generally feel pretty good.
The bad news.
There are always going to be habits that are easier to build and ones that are harder and there are for sure health habits that have been on my list for years now!
And they are still not a habit.
Ok so what am I doing wrong with those ones?
I started investigating and identified 9 tips to creating healthy habits that stick!
I’m going to use these to build a healthy habit that I have struggled with for soo long! A daily yoga practice.
I’ll report back in 66 days and let you know how I’m going. Let me know in the comments below if you have a habit you would like to build along with me.
9 Tips To Creating Healthy Habits That Stick
1. Give yourself enough time
According to a University College London study it can actually take on average 66 days to make a habit stick. In this study it was determined that participants had developed a habit when 95% of the time they did the behaviour without thinking. For these participants, depending on the habit it took anywhere from 18 – 254 days with an average of 66 days.
Give yourself time and know that it’s going to be worth the effort.
That leads onto number 2.
2. Know why
Why do you want to build this new habit?
Do you actually want to develop this behaviour or are you doing it because you think you “should”?
Spend a few minutes getting really clear on why you actually want to develop this healthy habit in the first place. Maybe even write it down and have it somewhere you can see to remind yourself each day.
For me I want to develop a yoga practice because I sit a lot in front of the computer and I’m getting sore joints and back and I know that yoga helps with that. I also have a tendency towards anxiety and so yoga really helps me stay balanced.
3. Understand how you actually develop a habit
In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains the three actions needed to form a habit.
The Cue – or trigger that reminds you to perform the habit
A routine – the action that you are trying to build that you do automatically
A reward – the payoff after the action.
So for me, I’m going to start laying out my mat in the lounge room before I go to sleep. That is my cue once I wake up.
Next I actually do some yoga. I’m going to start with just 10 mins (see Tip 6). But build up to an hour and practice this 66 times over the next 66 days.
Ok next I need a reward. I’ll have to think about this one.
Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments below.
4. Track your habits
I’m a big believer in tracking what you want to improve. Tracking your habits can be so transformational as the act of tracking itself just brings so much awareness to the actions you are taking.
There are lots of online trackers you can use or click HERE to download your free habits tracker
and print it out. This is the what I am going to use for my yoga practice.
5. Be consistent
This means no changing the habit half way through or changing the cue or the reward. You’re wanting to form a habit, routine is your friend!!
For me I’m going to do my yoga first thing in the morning.
6. Start small“Make it so easy you can’t say No” - Leo Babuta - Zen HabitsClick To Tweet
I love this quote. Small actions really do add up.
I personally find it really hard to just focus on small actions. I always want to start big. Go all or nothing. But I have never built a consistent habit this way.
So I’m committed to starting small and consistently showing up.
Willpower is a muscle and it gets tired so make your new habit so easy you can’t not do it. Instead of 20 pushups just do 2 per day. While you are just trying to build the habit try and make it so easy you can get it done without motivation.
Maybe I should start with 3 mins of yoga. And have my yoga clothes ready by my bed as well as my mat out.
You see Harvard Professor Shawn Achor in his book The Happiness Advantage talks about activation energy.
That initial amount of willpower or energy to get you started on an activity.
So make this activation energy requirement as small as possible. Getting to the gym is always the hardest part right?
Shawn says if you can make the positive habit three to 20 seconds easier to start, you’re likelihood of doing it rises dramatically.
7. Don’t rely on motivation
Because it runs out. Set up systems and accountability to help you build your habit.
You don’t have to go it alone.
Call a friend to go for a walk with you or join an online program.
In a study about goal achievement conducted by Psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews from Dominican University in California, the results showed that people who wrote down their goals, shared this information with a friend, and sent them weekly updates were on average 33% more successful in accomplishing their stated goals than those who merely formulated them.
My accountability is right here!
I’ll post daily yoga updates on my Instagram Account.
8. Don’t quit if you miss a day—it won’t matter in the long run
Just get right back on track.
No need for perfection just keep going.
Consistency wins when it comes to habit building.
9. Celebrate the wins & let go of the failures
This one might be one of the hardest but most powerful tips of all.
Celebrate the wins and let go of the failures.
This ties back into having a reward for completing the action we talked about in Tip 3.
I’ll have to think about a reward for my yoga habit development.
Letting go of any failures helps you get back to your habit faster so you can get back on track to developing your healthy habit!
Creating Healthy Habits
I hope these tips have been useful!
Remember click HERE to download your free habits tracker
to help you stay on track and make 2018 your healthiest, happiest year yet!!
To your health,