Hellloooo, 2023! There’s something exciting about a new year. It feels like a fresh start, a chance to do things better this time around. And, just like everyone else, I’m feeling excitement over starting new healthy habits.
But before you jump straight in, think about taking your first few steps slow. The best way to sustain a change is to go slow and allow yourself to adjust. Remember, the goal is to sustain healthy habits for life. It’s kinda hard to do that when you push yourself too hard then flame out in two weeks. Below are some tips for taking on big changes.
One. Start Simple
Don’t try to change everything about your life in one day. That excitement you’re feeling can lead to over-motivation and you might take on too much. If you want to work out regularly, start with 30 minutes three times per week. Once that’s a habit, build on that foundation.
Two. Set up Reminders
You might be excited now, but in two weeks, when life gets in the way, it can be easy to forget the habit you started working on. Make some reminders to yourself either by an app on your phone or blocking time off on your calendar. Try not to miss days or you’ll have a hard time making the habit stick. And if sustaining the new habit becomes impossible, maybe you started out too strong and need to go back to Step One. That’s okay. Keep going.
Three. Find a Trigger
Try pairing your new habit up with an existing habit (aka. your “trigger”). For example, I have a cat and I love that little orange tyrant, but I hate cleaning his litter box. It’s easy if I do it every day, but if I go a couple of days it gets pretty gross pretty fast. The way I formed a habit around cleaning the litter box regularly: every day when I come home from the gym or finish a home work out I go clean the litter box before I take a shower. Because nothing makes me want to shower more than cleaning the litter box. It might take some trial and error, but I bet you can find a trigger that will help you execute your new habit.
Four. Replace Lost Needs
What if you’re breaking a habit? We develop unhealthy habits for a reason. Maybe you’re watching too much television, and you want to cut back, but that unhealthy habit helped you relax. Now you need to find a new way to relax. You could look into meditation or reading to help you meet the same need. Try writing it out: a) the habit your trying to break, b) how you feel while you’re doing that habit (establishing what need it’s fulfilling), and c) a list of ways you can get that same need met. Trial and error will tell you which replacements work and which ones don’t.
Five. Forget Perfect
In 2023, give yourself the gift of imperfection. Not all of your attempts to change existing habits will be successful right away. (I still slip up on that litter box schedule.) Do your best, but don’t expect perfection. There will be bumps along the way. I’m a big fan of seeing things on paper. After a couple of weeks of trying a new habit, do a post-mortem and jot down the things that are working and not working in your new habit journey. Troubleshoot some ways you can work around the problem spots. And, don’t forget to congratulate yourself for the things that are working! Not all progress is linear. If you persist, you’ll get to where you want to be.
And, as always, feel free to reach out to [email protected] for a consultation!
Happy new year!