It is so much easier to get into bad habits, but that only makes it more important to create good habits for yourself. In this post I’ve got my top 5 tips for creating and maintaining good habits. These suggestions can apply to just about anything you want to do in life. For this article, I’m using weight loss and exercise as two very typical examples. The general tips for creating good habits can apply to anything that you are setting out to accomplish, so substitute as appropriate for what you are trying to accomplish in life.
1) Set Goals
if you don’t have goals for yourself, then there is no way to judge if you are doing good or not. It is much too easy to let things go without having the focus that a goal gives you. What ever you decide on for a goal, it should be something tangible and it helps immensely to write them down or document them somehow. Having a goal of “lose weight” is no good. A goal of “lose 15 pounds” is better, and “lose 15 pounds in the next 6 months” is even better. Make sure you quantify your goals, put them in writing, and set a time limit if you can.
2) Do it for Yourself
While doing things to please other people, or for some outside motivation can work sometimes, the only way to truly create good habits is to do it for yourself. You need to own the task and make it fully yours. Don’t work on losing weight because your partner wants you to; if you really and truly want to lose weight make it your task. This gives you not only ownership and power, but it also takes away an easy scapegoat. By being responsible to yourself you take away the possibility of blaming someone else if you fail. If you don’t really want it for yourself, then maybe it isn’t right and you should rethink what you are doing. You can always revisit your ideas in the future if you come to truly want to do it for yourself.
3) Be Consistent
This is really the nature of habits. Make it habitual and create a rhythm and pattern. Figure out a weekly schedule for exercise and stick with it. This also applies to building on your successes, or consistently improving. If you haven’t exercised in a while, it is much better to start slow and consistently build on that. If you get out and run one time a week, do that for a month and then add a second day so you are running twice a week. Be consistent about what you are doing and about building on your habits.
4) Make Your Good Habits Easy
Now this tip is more accurately “make your good habits as easy as possible” because what ever you are working on probably isn’t easy. So do what you can to make your activity as easy as possible. For example, find the best time of day for you to exercise. If you can get up early and exercise – and it leaves you feeling good all day – then do that. On the flip side, if you find yourself eating in front of the TV at night, change that routine and maybe exercise in the evening. Also, try to string things together. My gym is close to my kid’s school, so when I bring them to school I go dressed to exercise and work out on the way back. Find simple things that you can change to make the habits easier.
5) Remind yourself Why
When you are in the middle of another set of crunches and you really don’t want to continue, it is hard to see the forest of why you are doing this. Take time to reflect and continually renew why you are doing what you are working so hard on. This can be reflecting back on the goals (you did set up goals, right?!), or reflecting on why you made this commitment to yourself. Whether it is for a healthier, slimmer body, or feeling better about the way you look, it is vitally important to remind yourself why.
Do these tips apply to your situation? Got a tip yourself or an interesting way you applied these? Be sure and let me know.