You’re trying so hard to eat a clean diet, right? Yet, you simply can’t resist the smell of fried food. Going for a jog every day should be easy, but something else always ranks higher on the priority list. This constant back and forth is often the very thing that stalls the healthy habit-making process, until those well-intentioned goals become nothing more than the recurring thought of, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
How do you keep healthy habits firmly in your daily life? Here are four easy ways to end the procrastination and kick your thoughts into actions that last.
1. Work on your mindset first
Wouldn’t it be great if sticking to healthy habits felt like a natural thing to do, rather than something that requires superhuman willpower? Every action starts with a thought, so it’s your thoughts that need a healthy overhaul first. For example, do you habitually groan when you think of exercising?
Clearly, this reaction isn’t going to make a healthy habit stick. Start becoming aware of your thoughts and make a conscious effort to switch them to motivating ones. The best way to do this is to look at the bigger picture outcomes. Focus on how great you’ll feel after exercising, eating a fresh salad or paying off a chunk of debt. Strive to eliminate negative thinking first, and the motivation to take action will become more natural over time.
2. Take a step-by-step approach
The easier habits are to implement into your life, the more likely you are to stick to them. While it’s fantastic to have an inspirational end goal, taking a step-by-step approach helps you avoid overwhelm along the way, which is often what makes us give up. The word ‘step’ is the key here, and it’s important to learn to love what it means.
Every little step really does get you closer to the target, and small, specific actions are more likely to become habitual. So, if you can’t fit in an hour at the gym, do 10 minutes of exercise here and there throughout the day. When something crops up, and you can’t pay what you’d like to on a debt one week, just pay what you can. Don’t forget that every single step you take towards a healthy habit, no matter how small, is a good one.
3. Give your healthy habits support
Write down the habits you’d like to enforce and, next to them, devise a list of all the things that might support those habits. This could be something as simple as laying out your gym gear the night before, so you don’t have to think about what to wear in the morning. It might mean totally cleaning out all the ‘just in case’ junk food from the kitchen, so you don’t have to deal with temptation.
Get friends or family on board to help with accountability and motivation. Put affirmations or encouraging messages somewhere you’re forced to see them. Use music, beautiful recipes and exercises that appeal to you, to make forming new habits an enjoyable process. When you really focus on supporting healthy habits while they’re forming, they’ll soon take on a life of their own.
4. Know that repetition works
Do you come home every day and flop on the couch? Aimlessly scroll through social media each lunch break? Automatically reach for the chips when you watch a movie? It’s pretty easy to prove to yourself that repetition works in the forming of habits. Unfortunately, it’s usually the bad ones we program ourselves with, by unconsciously doing them day after day.
The great news is that this proves how very conditioned we become when we repeat thoughts and actions. Start by replacing existing habits with new, healthy ones. For a few days, remain very aware of your unconscious habits and switch them one by one. Stop yourself from flopping on the couch and go for a refreshing walk in the park or on the beach instead. Repeat the process day after day, and you’ll soon feel a ‘happy’ trigger that propels you to stick with the new, healthier habit.
We are, at the end of the day, creatures of habit. Use this to your advantage to embrace healthy ones, and you’ll hit those goals in no time.
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