Three keys to get unstuck and change your habits
Easier said than done, right?
Are you feeling frustrated or disappointed because you’re not making great progress towards changing your habits and lifestyle?
It could be to eat healthier, stop unhealthy snacking, exercise consistently, or to maintain a healthy balance between work and family life, the list is practically never-ending.
You know what needs to change and you’ve started to put it into action, but you just can’t seem to stick to it and push through till you reach your goal.
When you’re also constantly feeling self-conscious, unhappy, anxious, or in pain, it’s just human to get overwhelmed or discouraged. You might start doubting yourself and eventually even feel like your goal is unattainable or just too big.
I see a lot of talk about manifesting, meditation, and mindset.
Although these tools and strategies certainly have their place and can be extremely powerful when used in the right circumstances, they are often not all that’s needed if you truly want to create a healthy life.
But, there is good news! You might just be missing some foundational pieces on your journey.
These are some basic but vital keys to changing your habits:
The behavior that you want to install as a habit, or the old habit that you want to reduce or remove
You need to be specific, make sure you know exactly what you are trying to change.
Some experts suggest that it takes a very long time to get rid of a bad habit if we’ve had it for longer than a few months, as it is has become so ingrained and would usually be automatic and subconscious (they start without us having to make a decision or sometimes even being aware of them).
In this case, it is usually very effective to replace the current habit with a new one, at every opportunity possible. For example, if you tend to smoke when stressed, rather decide on another healthier coping strategy which you can use in its place, such as listening to relaxing music, writing in your journal or blog, or going for a jog.
The situation that will act as a cue for the behavior
You need to be clear about the cue that will set off the new behavior. The cue may be an environmental one, a physical one, visual or even auditory; just make sure that it is consistent and will always be relevant to the behavior.
You need to practice the new behavior at every opportunity where it is relevant. For example, if you want to do a workout consistently, decide how frequent you want to do so and what will serve as the signal or cue, which could be the start or end of your morning routine (just before or after breakfast) or the end of your workday right before or after going home.
The cue is also important when trying to get rid of a bad habit. For example, if your goal is to stop snacking then you need to think about every situation where you feel really tempted to snack, and ensure you have another way of coping that is healthier, ensure the snacks are out of reach and you have something healthy to sip on instead or reduce the cues that are tempting you to snack.
So if the cue is stress, then start putting strategies in place that will help you to reduce stress and overwhelm at those times of the day or night.
Opportunity for repetition
It can take a long time for your new behavior or lifestyle change to become so ingrained that it can truly be called a habit, there is no definite timeline, it could be between 21 days until as long as 6 months.
If you only try something for a month, then stop doing it for a few days while on vacation or taking a sick break, it will probably feel challenging or uncomfortable once you start up again. You need to give your brain and body time to adjust to this change and let it become ingrained in your neural pathways.
So practice the new behavior as often as possible and be patient with yourself during the long habit creation process.