Developing habits! This is something that all of us have struggled with over the years right?
All the new year resolutions, all the “sudden” realisations that you need to eat better, sleep better, and reduce stress in your life.
But how often do we succeed in keeping these promises that we make to ourselves?
I can answer that - rarely.
Don’t worry, you are not alone in this. Most people find it difficult to maintain these so-called healthy habits.
Does it really have to be this hard? Does being healthy demand such a high investment? It’s not just the fact that we are not able to keep up with our targets, that is troublesome. What also hurts is the frustration that results and the feeling that we have disappointed ourselves. That, my friend, hurts a lot.
So let’s try a different approach okay?
Based on research, here are a few facts that can help you develop effective habits.
STEP 1 - Find what you already enjoy
Let’s say that you want to build a healthy habit of doing exercise.
In this case, set goals based on what you “already” enjoy doing. If you want to exercise more, think about which form of exercise you already enjoy doing. It can be Zumba, yoga, swimming, or anything that is enjoyable for you. If you haven’t found something like this yet, try out different activities.
Recent research found that while trying to get participants to meditate frequently, those participants who enjoyed meditating in the first session were more likely to be consistent with it.
Just as there are different types of meditation in the same way there are different kinds of exercises that you will enjoy more than others. Set goals according to your preference.
STEP 2 - Are your goals achievable?
Instead of saying - “I will hit the gym every day” when you have not been to a gym in the past 5 years, set a more achievable goal like - “I will go to the gym twice/thrice a week.” You can increase the frequency once you get comfortable with this routine.
If this too seems difficult for you, set a goal of doing one pushup every day. That’s easy, right? Just one pushup a day. Then after a week or two, increase it to two push-ups a day and so on.
The goal here is to just get you started. Starting a routine is the most difficult part. Make the process of starting as easy and appealing as you can. Once you get started, it is easier to build momentum.
STEP 3 - Make the hard work easier
The next thing you need is hard work. There, I said it frankly, no sugarcoating.
No matter how ambitious or helpful your goal is, you will not notice any change until you are consistent in your practice. Thankfully, there is a trick to make all this work seem easier.
If your goal is to go for Zumba workouts, wear workout clothes and go to bed. Or keep your sports shoes on the floor beside your bed so that it will require the least effort from your end to get ready for the workouts.
If sleeping in workout clothes sounds weird to you, it's okay. Keep the clothes somewhere you can easily see them. The goal here is to make the process of your going to Zumba workouts as easy and effortless as possible. The more effortless it is, the less willpower you will need to achieve your goal.
STEP 4 - Believe you can do this
The most important ingredient that will help you stick to your goal is “self-belief”. You need to truly believe that this is possible. Remember “why” you are doing this. Everyone might have a different reason, but mostly it will be something along the lines of - To become fit and having a better, healthier lifestyle.
“What if I am doing this to impress someone, or under social pressure?”
That’s an honest question, but even if that is the case, do not focus on that reason. Instead, impress yourself with how dedicated you can be to achieving a healthier lifestyle.
Tell yourself that you are someone who makes healthy choices. You like to take care of your body and your health. Do it because you want to.
I hope you found these techniques helpful.
Let us know which techniques have you applied to build healthy habits!