One of the common question asked of someone who has achieved a wellness goal is "how did you do it?" The reality of it is the person has to create change in their life with strategies that work for them.
When you think of a typical day, most of the things we do are a sequence of habits. Visualize your how your typical day begins. For me it is reflection and prayer, morning bathroom etiquette, on brewing coffee, feeding the feral cats, giving the dog his medicine, and out for a morning walk. I’ve done this routine for so long that it is done day after day without thought. It is ingrained into my subconscious. For me to do something different would require creating new strategies to break the old routine for a new one. This also applies when working to live a healthier lifestyle. Something inside my happen in order to grab a glass of water instead instead of a can of pop.
According to Psychology Today, the formation of new habits bring about changes in behavior that help lay the path for a healthier lifestyle. The same repetition that forms old behaviors can be used to create new ones. The British poet John Dryden wrote ‘We first make our habits, and then our habits make us”. But, you must always keep in mind that bad habits were not formed overnight and neither will better ones.
The acronym KISS (keep it simple stupid) has been the design principle of the US Navy since 1960. The premise is that things work best when they are kept simple rather than being complicated. This has been adopted in many facets of life and is definitely applicable in the formation of new habits. A good approach is setting macro goals (the big picture of how you desire things to be one day) with micro quotas (the minimum amount of effort you need to give daily to make it a reality). Think of how do you write a book. Committing to writing a certain number of pages daily without fail will result in a finished manuscript ready for publication.
Don’t get caught in the 21 day trap believing this is the magic number of days needed for repetition to become a habit. We are all unique and how long it takes for something to become habitual behavior varies (anywhere from 18 -254 days). Just keep doing it again and again until it becomes second nature…then you have a habit. I think of my brother-in-law who was an overweight adolescent. One day the light bulb went off, in order to stop being teased about his weight...something needed to change. He moved from a couch potato and began walking until he worked his way into running. Now fifty years later, without fail, every day he runs.
Find that thing or reason that taps into your passion for change. Passion gives it meaning. Consider before you begin, do you have a yearning for what you are about to invest your time and energy in? You have to be able to connect your passion with your action. This promotes resilience and prevents burnout. Motivation is the driving force for developing new habits.
Remember “everyone has a story” and nothing is more motivating than hearing stories of success. Though change is about creating a healthier you, jumping in the back pocket of those who have succeeded can be your game changer. Use opportunities to learn helpful tips and tools that may be incorporated in to your plan as you travel your journey. I cannot stress enough…connect…connect…connect.
It is said that misery loves company and so do those who are walking on uncharted territory. Connecting with like-minded individual/s with similar intentions makes for the ideal support system. It is equally important to write it out. It is not hard to feel like you are putting in so much work but are getting nowhere. Frustration comes with that feeling of little progress that you overlook those small accomplishments. By writing it down and focusing on those micro quotas you create tangible mile markers along the journey. “The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken” – Samuel Johnson.