Upgrading my health and everyone else’s around me is one of my passions. For this, we often need to build new habits and have to say goodbye to old ones.
When it comes to building new habits, some of us become too ambitious and set ourselves up for failure. For example, if the new habit is too challenging (i.e. work out every single day or ditch sugar completely) or we don’t have the patience to allow for it to become ingrained, we quit.
The good news is that sticking to a new habit is a practice that can be learned. My recommendation is to pick one habit at a time: so we can focus on it and truly succeed at adopting it for real. Once that habit is a solid part of our life, we can add another one and so on.
“Here are my golden rules to stick to a new habit”
- Get excited. Ask yourself why you’re doing it and what you’ll get out of it. Convince yourself that the end result will bring you exciting results.
- Break the habit down to single actions. If you aim to practice yoga every single day, a way to break it down would be to practice one yoga posture everyday. It might seem simple and unambitious, but the idea is to form the habit of including yoga in your morning routine. Once that is established, you can add more layers to it by adding more postures, more time or some other more challenging aspect to it.
- Start with once a day versions or your new habit. If you want to eat healthy, it can be too challenging to go from a liberal diet to a strict diet. So, you start by picking a meal per day and nailing it. For example, you decide that you’ll have a healthy breakfast every single day. It’s a lot easier, and you’re much more likely to succeed, if you concentrate on one meal than to plan all you’ll eat in one whole day.
- Get started and everything will follow. Avoid overthinking: just get started. For example, if you want to pick up meditation, go and sit on your meditation cushion. If you want to build a regular yoga practice, unroll your mat and step on it. No time for second thoughts or excuses, just do it. .
- Praise yourself for doing it.It’s really important that you get positive feelings associated to the new habit. When you’re doing, focus on enjoying it and feeling good about it. Once you’re done, every single day, praise yourself for your completion.
- Don’t allow self-boycott. Building a new habit takes an effort and involves some discomfort. There’s a big chance that your body and mind will start rebelling and making up defense mechanisms to rationalize quitting. Be prepared and don’t allow them to get to you. Replace them with positive self-talk.
- Hold yourself accountable. Tell someone about your habit change and ask him or her to keep you accountable. The more people you tell, the more likely you are to stick to it.
- Design a penalty in case you miss. The key here is not to allow yourself to miss a day and, definitely, never miss two straight days. Ask yourself what penalty would help you stick to the game: Maybe double down? Maybe call your accountability partner to confess? Maybe donate something? Decide before you start.
So, now you’re equipped with an infallible action plan to protect your good intentions and resolutions. Remember: less is more. Start by selecting one of them and simplifying it. Get motivated, tell someone, design a penalty (which won’t be needed) and get started. Keep going, praise yourself, don’t allow yourself or anyone to talk you out of it and celebrate. Once you’ve established it for at least 3 weeks, you’re ready for the next one.