The Secret to Creating Good Habits. It’s probably not what you think!
How many times have you gone to bed on a Sunday night vowing that it all changes from tomorrow. That you are going to create new habits, exercise more, not over eat, and get motivated to do and be more.
You’ve probably read about SMART goals, you’ve probably worked in an environment where you’re encouraged to have a target/KPI’S, and you’ve likely set yourself a plan and a reward if you finish it at some point.
The question is- why can’t these habits stick? Why do we often lose sight of the target and our motivation disappears with the first hurdle? Or worse, it just dwindles until we just can’t. Be. Bothered. Then we get annoyed with ourselves for not having the ‘discipline.’
I assure you it’s not a ‘How To’ handbook. If information was enough, I’d be skinny and rich and motivated from all the ‘this is what you should be doing’ information I’ve read over the years! We all know what to do. We’re not silly.
The key isn’t motivation, or willpower, or knowledge. If you have done any of our health coaching or chatted to me on the trail you will know my thoughts on relying on these factors. The whole idea/ thought process of ‘being lazy’ or ‘unmotivated’ contributes to why habits aren’t sticking. No matter how much motivation you have – and I’d consider myself a pretty motivated person- we all have a limited supply of motivation.
Habits. A series of small changes that should be:
So small that they are effortless.
Aligned with your existing habits.
The secret is to respect yourself. You need to accept that you WILL have the occasional slip up, and it’s great to start smaller again tomorrow, rather than not at all. When we have too high expectations of ourselves, we create a narrative of ‘‘failure’ and give up.
If you need motivation to create a new habit, the habit is too big. It needs to be broken down.
The best way forward is consistent, and small. You will create better habits this way. It will happen in a way that you don’t need a surge of motivation or willpower to get it done, it will just happen naturally and you’ll look back and go ‘Ha! This has just become a part of my routine without really realising it’. This is the power of achieving goals through habit- not motivation.
If you feel the need to build up motivation before accomplishing something then it is already too hard.
Like anything, guidance on how to implement this mindset is crucial to its success. So firstly, let’s go over what we do know about creating good habits and go through ten things that will help you create and maintain habits.
- Make the change positive – what are you going to do rather than what you’re not going to do. (I don’t feel like an hour workout but I will walk to the supermarket instead of drive)
- Know the “why”. ie: clearly identify your need for the change.
- Plan the new habit- make an appointment with yourself to keep you accountable.
- Learn to be good at slip ups. Regardless of how good you are and how good your intentions are, at some stage you may miss a day, forget, not have the energy. That’s ok. Part of thriving is knowing that mistakes are learning opportunities- and you don’t just stop altogether.
- Get support. Find a buddy, tell someone what your intentions are.A habit shared, is a habit made a whole lot easier. We are generally really good at offering support, but it’s when we ask for that support that trust and friendships are truly built.
- Change your environment. What can you do to trigger good habits? want to eat healthier, make the food you want to eat more viable. Want to exercise more, put your runners in front of the door. Give yourself constant visual reminders and cues of the new habit you want to create.
- Attach the new habit to an automatic behaviour. One of our best exercises for knee rehabilitation is to stand on a dura disk or an uneven surface, on the poor leg, while brushing your teeth as it help stabilize all the muscles. It’s an awesome exercise simply because if you attach the doing with brushing your teeth you are more likely to do!
- Change the narrative. Stop listening to what others do, and what someone else did… there are no shoulds and what worked for one doesn’t mean it will work for you. Change your mindset. A simple one is ‘I get to’ go for a walk because I’m fortunate enough to have a body than functions rather than ‘I have to’. I ‘get to’ clean the house because I have a roof over my head and a job. (Well that’s going a bit far, but you get the point!)
Babies don’t try to walk, fall down and think ‘this isn’t for me. I give up.’
The Secret to Creating Good Habits
Is consistency. So start small, adding what you already do well.
To celebrate what you are already good at and make it better, the change should be so consistent that failing one day gives you the opportunity to try again and make the habit change smaller, or easier.
THE FEELING YOU HAVE FAILED BECAUSE YOU SLIP UP IS A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY
The biggest reason we fail is because we make the goal too big! Putting your shoes on and not going for that walk, is better than not putting your shoes on. The slowest walker is still lapping everyone on the couch.
All of us can find things we do that make us feel good, make us proud and it’s these things that we need to work on to create new habits. Keep it small. Keep it consistent. Watch the changes occur without you even realising.