Change your habits, and your life will change. The choices you make and the acts you take on a regular basis are referred to as habits. Despite our best efforts, our drive to develop healthy behaviors gradually fades over time. January resolutions are forgotten by February, diets fail after a few weeks, and budgets are blown in a matter of months. But remember, with a little discipline, you can create a new habit that requires little effort to maintain. Here are a few tips for creating new habits and making them stick:
#1 Tip to trick your brain that's backed by real research in brain science – and it takes just five seconds
The author Mel Robbins popularized the 5-Second Rule. And it really works. The 5-second rule is a form of metacognition, which is a strategy for fooling your brain into achieving larger goals. Whenever you have the urge to do something good, such as exercise, eat well, floss your teeth, or stretch, countdown 5-4-3-2-1 and then act on it. If you don't, your brain will give you a slew of excuses why you shouldn't and you can end up stuck in your same-old rut. Why this works: Our brain is always looking for threats an it wants us to feel safe and in control and needs us to be in command. As a result, if we start a new habit, it may encourage us to remain in the comfort zone. However, taking action before your brain has a chance to kick in short circuits the process.
We all know our favorite athletes lift weights to get stronger and more powerful to improve their performance. There’s nothing stopping you from getting in on the action! Here’s why you should start strength training right away:
#2 Write it down
A piece of paper with a resolution written on it isn't as relevant as actually writing the resolution. Writing clarifies your thoughts and helps you concentrate on the end goal. If you write it down, it gets reinforced.
#3 Remove temptations
Restructure your environment so that it won't tempt you in the first few days of starting a new habit. Remove junk food, throw out the cigarettes so you won’t need to struggle with willpower later.
#4 Use external reinforcements
Jerry Seinfeld discovered his productivity secret a long time ago. He hung a year-long calendar on his wall and marked each day with a big red X when he accomplished his writing goals. Every day, his chain of Xs grew longer, and his desire to keep going grew as well. With the widespread use of smartphones, a variety of monitoring apps have been developed specifically for this purpose.
#5 Incorporate mindfulness
Mindfulness practices can have a big impact on your mental health and help keep you feeling balanced throughout the day. Examples include deep breathing, meditation, journaling, etc.
Remember these before you start!
- Don't expect all of your attempts to form new behaviours to succeed right away. Try your hardest, but be prepared for a few setbacks.
- Look for tactics that will make it harder for you to justify breaking your good habits.
- Consistency is the most critical aspect of developing a new habit. It makes no difference how well you do on any given day. What makes the real difference is consistent commitment.
- Plan ahead to reduce the excuses. When it comes to bad habits, we don’t just look for excuses to give to other people - we often look for excuses to give ourselves. Be realistic with your goals.
- Don’t judge yourself or feel guilty when you make a mistake, instead focus on developing a plan to get back on track as quickly as possible.
It is easy to get all pepped up and take on too much. When starting a new behavior is should be easy. For example:
- Do you want to make it a routine to exercise? Your aim for today is to exercise for 5 minutes.
- Do you want to make writing a habit? Today's task is to compose three sentences.
- Do you want to start eating more healthily? This week, your target is to eat one balanced meal.
It’s easier to convince ourselves to do something for five minutes rather than start off with 30 minutes.
Stay focused on your goal and if you slip along the way, start again!
Have you ever felt guilty for lacking the ability to stick to a fitness routine? You're not the only one who feels this way. What did you expect to happen? To succeed without failing from the start? If you plan to run a marathon in two weeks on your first training attempt, you will most likely be disappointed. So, start with small bite-size goals. Breaking bad habits and building healthy new ones is not easy, but given the right amount of time, and proper strategy, it’s totally worth it.
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