As the new year begins its all too common to make the same old resolutions or set unrealistic goals for yourself. People tend to get caught up in the “New Year New me” mentality but rarely consider the significant changes their goals will require. Setting unrealistic goals leads to a repeating cycle of falling off the wagon or completely giving up which can sometimes do more harm than good.
The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So don’t set the same old goals this year and expect it to finally work out. Instead, try something new and don’t set goals or make resolutions. Instead try and establish HABITS and ROUTINES that promote a healthier lifestyle. Get ahead of the game by simply being mindful of these small changes and by next year you will notice huge differences.
In this article we will talk about how to establish habits and routines that make any goals you set more achievable!
So what is a habit?
Habits are routines or behaviors that you repeat enough for them to become subconscious parts of your every day life. Habits can also range from things as big as working out every morning before work to simple actions like checking your mirrors before merging into traffic.
Habits can also be a bad thing. looking at your phone isn’t always a bad thing, but pulling it out every time you try to go to sleep may be a bad pattern to endorse. But don’t worry, good habits can be learned over time and bad habits can eventually be kicked as well!
How long does it take to establish new habits?
Building new habits or patterns isn’t always easy and some can be far more difficult to form than others. The average time needed to start doing something consistently is roughly 66 days but it can be more or less. Generally speaking the bigger the change the longer it will take to become a habit. If you start drinking more water daily it may take 66 days for it to become a subconscious part of your life but its more likely to take 20 or 30 days. There is also no official time line for forming a habit. Missing the occasional day wont reset your progress either as long as you get back to your schedule as soon as possible.
Establishing new habits can take a while but when people set a manageable routine they generally find that reaching their goals becomes a lot more reasonable. But how does someone begin to build healthier habits?
Here are three simple tips to help establish healthy habits:
1. Make healthier habits more convenient and bad habits less convenient!
By changing your environment in ways that makes good habits easier to follow you are giving yourself an instant leg up. Lets say you want to start reading more and watching TV less. A good way to start is by leaving a good book by the couch and putting the TV remote in the other room. This way when you sit down it is less effort to just pick up the books than it is to get up and grab the remote! By making your healthy targeted habit more convenient you are enabling yourself to make better choices more easily.
Making healthier options more convenient can also be done by simply planning ahead. I don’t know about you but when I get home from work the last thing I want to do is plan a healthy meal and cook it. Instead I find it much easier to just grab something random out of the fridge, healthy or otherwise. However, if there is an established plan for that dinner and all I have to do is follow the instructions it suddenly becomes much easier to put in a little extra effort. By planning my dinners ahead of time I can eliminate the mental struggle of eating healthy and just do it.
Another good example is getting up in the morning. Many people get trapped in a viscous cycle of snoozing their alarms over and over before getting up and preparing for the day in a rush. This example may not be relevant for everyone but the chronic snoozers out there definitely understand. So how do you prevent your daily snoozathon? Easy, just leave your phone on the dresser across the room. By forcing yourself to get out of bed you are eliminating the question of “should I get up” and replacing it with a statement “I have to get up and shut that off.”
2. Start earlier
Studies have shown that cortisol plays an important role in forming healthier habits and cortisol is highest right when you wake up.
One such study followed forty-eight students who were asked to start stretching daily. Half of these students were asked to complete these stretches in the morning right after waking while the other half were asked to stretch right before bed. Over the testing period the students who stretched in the morning were found to adopt the habit of daily stretching roughly 50 days before the group who were stretching at night.
Not everyone has time to go through a stretching routine every morning but here are a few simple habits everyone should start when they wake up.
- Drinking 8 oz of water is a great way to rehydrate and get moving in the morning
- Do a few stretches or pushups to get your blood flowing before the day begins
- brush your teeth before you go out
- and spend a few minutes meditating on your day before you look at any emails or check social media
These may not be life changing habits but starting your day off with a routine gives you something to help wake up and provides a sense of accomplishment before you ever leave the house.
3.Set Realistic Goals
Healthy habit building tends to be more of a marathon & not a sprint. It takes time and persistence to make a lasting change. Most people open up their new years with huge goals that consist of dozens of individual habits they need to learn and adopt.
You need to break your long-term goal into smaller, measurable milestones. Each time you hit a milestone you succeed and rekindle the motivation to continue making habits that will get you to your ultimate goal! When you set short term goals in effort towards a larger goal it gives you a plan to follow.
If the milestones are too difficult and unrealistic you may not reach them and feel demotivated, giving up on your efforts to build a healthier habit.
For example many people will make the resolution to get in better shape. If your first milestone for this goal is to spend 45 minutes working out each day you are probably biting off more than you can chew and many people quickly burn out by setting goals like this. Instead set the smaller goal of doing 40 push ups without stopping. Then you can work to establish a habit of doing 25 or 30 push ups a day. By the time waking up and doing 30 pushups becomes a second thought you can probably do 40 without too much effort! Once you have reached this goal you can move to a bigger goal that brings you closer to the final target.
Start small when incorporating a healthy habit. 10 minutes of exercise 1-3 times a week for 3 weeks may sound pretty simple at first but as the habit forms you will gradually be able to increase the amount of days you exercise and/or length. This could also work by just making a point to include some greens on your plate at least 2 times a week for 3 weeks and gradually increase from there!
As the year starts to progress we are hoping its a year full of achievement and success. Because of this we wanted to share some information on how to create and maintain healthy habits over the next few months. By establishing a plan and setting habits that are more achievable and convenient you can finally star making progress toward those old resolutions that you could never quite reach!
Looking for guidance and help? Find an accountability buddy! Or check out our WLD programs – each client is assigned their own Wellness Coach who they virtually meet with each week to ensure they are reaching goals and building better habits for a healthier life!