There’s no question that human beings, at various degrees, are creatures of habit. We get out of bed at a specific time, grab our daily one-pump-vanilla-almond-milk-Caramel-Macchiato, and begin to work – day in and day out. But it’s the New Year! And with that comes a revitalized sense of focus and motivation to get back into healthy habits.
Below is a list of four strategies that will kickstart the habit-making process!
1. Start from the ground up.
A common mistake that many individuals make when creating new habits is that they want to see immediate results. As such, they begin with too big of a change that isn’t sustainable in the long-term. So, how can we avoid this? By starting where you are and creating shorter, achievable goals. Let’s say you want to increase your push-up game: instead of committing to twenty-five push-ups daily, start small with five, and work your way up! By doing so, you are increasing self-efficacy, which is a fancy way of saying: confidence! Not only will you be more likely to succeed, but you will begin to enjoy that process and continue it on a long-term basis to seek different results.
2. Combine the old with the new.
One of the most effective ways to cultivate a new habit is by integrating it with an existing one. While you’re waiting for your morning coffee to percolate, try incorporating a simple new activity (perhaps a yoga pose, a few squats, or a plank). After a few weeks, your new coffee-brewing habit will become second nature! So have fun, be creative, and combine the old with the new.
3. Commit to it.
As you may (or may not) know, creating habits is a lengthy process. But how long does it truly take? According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, forming a new habit can take anywhere between 18 – 254 days. That’s a heck of a lot of days to get into the swing of things! But rest assured that if you commit to it every day, no matter how big or small, the process of habit-formation will occur much faster then if you don’t commit to it at all!
4. Provide positive reinforcement.
In its simplest terms, positive reinforcement means adding some positive aspects to an activity to increase a behaviour. In other words, reward yourself! Implementing immediate rewards, such as watching your favourite Netflix show while cycling indoors, can help you establish and stick to a habit. Longer term reinforcement such as seeing your weight decrease (or increase if trying to gain weight), or your clothes fitting better, provides you with positive reinforcement that can last over time.
No matter big or small, this New Year we encourage you to start practicing at least 1 healthy habit each day! Whether it’s drinking 8 glasses of water, going for a lunchtime walk, or even squatting while your bagel toasts in the morning, give yourself the gift of habit making this season. Your body, mind, and soul, will be sure to thank you!