When it comes to habit change, overcoming the inertia that comes from many years of routine and bad habits can be a daunting task. However, there has probably never been a better time to clean up any bad habits you may have developed over the years. Your routine has been upended, and you have plenty of time.
Here are a few simple steps to help identify undesirable habits, as well as how to remedy them.
Identify what needs to change.
The brain loves to automate behaviors, so changing habits takes deliberate effort. Start by taking a personal inventory of your good/bad habits:
- Create a personal mission statement. Having a solidified vision of who you aspire to be will help you identify behaviors/habits that are inconsistent with what is most important to you.
- Inventory all aspects of well-being: physical, mental, and spiritual. Do you feel successful in these areas? What habits/behaviors aren’t consistent with being the person described in your mission statement?
- Look at how your environment is impacting your behaviors. Is the kitchen your new breakroom? Is staying indoors leading to more sitting and screen time?
Once you have inventoried your current habits, you will be able to prioritize the highest leverage habits to improve. From there, you must create new commitments that are consistent with long-term health and happiness.
It can feel daunting to change long-standing habits. That is why the One Day at a Time (ODAT) approach is so effective. When approaching habit change one day at a time, everything becomes more manageable. After all, you can do almost anything for one day. Before you know it, that one day becomes one week, one month, one year!
When creating daily commitments, remember that less is more. It is better to be successful with a small commitment than unsuccessful with a larger one. Too often we try to change everything all at once and end up right where we started a week later. That being said, don’t be afraid to stretch yourself a little. If your commitment isn’t moving the needle, what’s the point? Your commitment should be significant enough to positively impact your health, but manageable enough to ensure success. Examine what you are realistically capable of committing to and go for it.
Adhere to commitments.
Now that you’ve identified habits you want to change and made realistic daily commitments, what’s next? How do you keep yourself motivated and stick to these commitments? The answer is to create a system of accountability. Here are a few strategies:
- Use personal reminders to keep your commitment front-of-mind. This can be in the form of a symbolic token (i.e. rubber bracelet) or a physical reminder such as setting an alarm reminding you take action.
- Create an environment that sets you up for success. For example, if you’ve committed to read 20 mins a day, leave your book in an obvious place. If you are trying to limit mindless snacking, put your go-to snacks on a higher shelf and away from eye level.
- Share your commitments with others. Too often, stubbornly plowing ahead on our own leads to frustration and poor outcomes. Tell someone close to you what you are committing to and ask that they hold you accountable.
- Make commitments as a family. Whether you commit to going for a walk every day with your spouse or eating dinner at the table with the whole family, getting more people involved always helps. As an added bonus, it fosters more quality time with the people you love most.
Now is the time to take action. Rather than using this unprecedented time as a reason to backslide, use it as an opportunity to move forward. Examine your habits and take strides to improve them while time is not a roadblock. Let’s come out of this better than ever!
Are you ready to take action with changing your habits? Make regular exercise part of your new normal! Thanks to virtual training, we can train anyone, anywhere. Check out our “Give Back” virtual training to get started!