Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Have you ever set a goal or New Year's resolution—such as eating healthier, or starting an exercise routine and felt really excited about it—only to fall off the wagon just a few days later? I think we have all been there and it can be incredibly defeating. I know what you are thinking, you just wish you had more willpower right? Believe it or not, more willpower isn’t the answer. In fact, recent research has shown that people who are better at self-control, don’t necessarily have more willpower, they have better habits!
According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviors on any given day. When a behavior becomes a habit it no longer requires willpower or self-control to complete it. You don’t have to think about it or question it, you simply do it because it is part of your routine and it therefore becomes easier. It's not a matter of if you can make time for the said habit, it's only a matter of when. Think of brushing your teeth for example. You no longer have to use willpower to push yourself to brush your teeth; you just do it. That is the beauty in building a habit! Too often we are so busy focusing on the “what” (i.e., “What diet should I eat?” or “What type of exercise should I do?”) without paying enough attention to the “how” (i.e., “How can I stick with that diet or exercise program?”).
This New Year, I want to help you build habits that will stick and that is why for January we will be doing a Habit Challenge!
Here's how to prepare:
Pick ONE habit you want to focus on for the month.
It can be something new or something not so new that you want to improve upon or add into your life. Get crystal clear on your vision as to what exactly that is and what it might look like or feel like/ how it could work.
Walk >8,000 steps daily
Sleep > 7 hours each night
Drink > 80 oz water daily
> 15 Exercise minutes each day
Add 1/2 cup vegetables with breakfast
Meditate 10 minutes daily
Eat one piece of fruit daily
Strength or Resistance Training >2x weekly
Eat meatless at lunch each day
Eat >25 g fiber daily
Eat > 80 g protein daily
Alcohol 1x weekly
Meal Prep 4 lunches each week
Try one new recipe every week
Log 1 day of meals per week in MyFitnessPal or other food logging app
Average weekly Blood Sugar >130
+++ Whatever else your heart desires!! These don't only need to be related to health.
**Remember you want to frame your habit in a positive light. Frame your habit as something you are adding to your life rather than something you are subtracting or depriving yourself of (negative).
Make it so small you can't possibly say no. Research shows that willpower is like a muscle. It gets fatigued as you use it throughout the day. Solve this problem by picking a new habit that is easy enough that you don't need motivation to do it. Rather than starting with 50 pushups per day, start with 5 pushups per day. Rather than trying to meditate for 10 minutes per day, start by meditating for one minute per day. Make it easy enough that you can get it done without motivation.
Consider habit stacking.
This strategy connects a new habit with a long-established habit.
If you wanted to begin a daily morning meditation routine you might create this time right after you brush your teeth each morning. After I brush my teeth, I will sit down and breathe mindfully for two minutes. Stacking this new habit on top of the established habit (teeth brushing) allows the established habit to act as a trigger or "cue" to perform your new habit.
Have a backup plan.
You're not perfect and your plan won't be perfect. Plan for failure.
Research has shown that missing your habit once, no matter when it occurs, has no measurable impact on your long-term progress. Rather than trying to be perfect, plan for failure. Take some time to consider what will prevent your habit from happening. What are some things that are likely to get in your way? What are some daily emergencies that are likely to pull you off course? How can you plan to work around these issues? Or, at least, how you can bounce back quickly from them and get back on track? Utilize If Then Statements: "If I am unable to do my 10 minutes of meditation, I will take 5 deep breaths instead." Focus on building the identity of someone who never misses a habit twice.
Positively Reinforce or Reward New Habits
Most healthy habits don't have immediate rewards. Positively reinforce your wins by rewarding yourself. The reward could be a simple as the gratification of telling a friend about what you did, checking it off your calendar or splurging on a post-workout protein smoothie. This reinforces the habit change feedback loop to continue the habit while you wait for the noticeable rewards to kick in such as weight loss, self-confidence, improved mindset etc.
Please submit your habit to me at the link below by January 1.
Let's make 2021 the best year yet by focusing on the habits that are important you.
Change is hard, but so is staying the same. Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.