Do you want to sleep more, be more organized, eat healthier, drink more water, drink less soda, less alcohol, etc.? Changing habits is not easy for most people.
Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
When it comes to habits, most of us are old dogs and some people think that the older we get the more difficult it is to develop new habits. That is not my experience, people of all ages can learn new habits, if they want to.
There are zillions of books on how to change your habits. They all have good advice, but not all advice works for everybody. There are books about different styles, different techniques, etc. What I have found is that what matters when we want to acquire healthier habits is:
- Do you really want to do it?
- Put systems in place
If you want to eat healthier, workout, have a strict morning routine, control stress, etc. you really have to nail down your WHY.
Why should you do it?
Why do you want the results offered by healthier habits? We don’t want healthier habits, we want the results of healthier habits.
We want to sleep more because it has health benefits such as: more concentration, it makes us happier, more productive, skinnier etc.
We want to eat healthier because: we want to be healthier, control our blood pressure, blood sugar, look skinnier, put less pressure on our knees etc. and why do we want those effects? Because we want more energy to do what we want to do. We don’t want to spend money, time and effort going to the doctor, taking a zillion pills, lowering our quality of life, we don’t want aches and pains, we want to avoid the “side” effects of drugs etc. We want to keep our bodies young and strong.
Find the root, why do you want healthier habits
You have to nail it down, go to the root. For example: I want to lose 10 pounds. Why? Because I will look and feel better. Why will you want to feel and look better? Because I will feel happier and be healthier. Why do you want to feel happier and healthier? Because I want to be there for my children when they need me, I don’t want to be sick and become a liability.
OK, that is your why. Your why is your children and your future self. That is huge. That is not feel better and look better as you initially thought. Now you have something tangible. Every time you don’t want to work out, picture your kids and you will feel the energy to workout at least a few minutes even when you don’t want to do it.
If you have a strong why, you will have a strong will
Sometimes you are going to discover that you don’t have a strong why for something and it will be your decision to do it or not. For example, running a marathon. It is mostly a badge of honor, but for some people it is about self-determination. This is something optional in life, but your health is not optional.
Put your habit changing systems in place
Now that you know your why you are totally convinced that you have to do it, then comes another important part: put your systems in place. Without systems it becomes difficult to change a habit. These are tips that help a lot of my clients:
Begin with the end in mind.
What is the goal? Imagine yourself at the end, how will you feel? Savor that moment, keep it in your mind.
Plan the way.
Every goal needs to be divided in small steps to measure success. When are you going to do it, how are you going to do it.
For example, you plan to eat a healthier lunch, maybe a salad, but you don’t really like salads. What else can you eat? Instead can you bring soup and a healthier sandwich from home? You want to eat healthier snacks, you need to plan it, and in most places the snacks are not healthy.
You want to sleep more. How can you do it? What do you need to do in order to go to bed earlier?
Invest in yourself
Invest time and put resources on it if you need to. Maybe an online fitness membership to workout at home, maybe once a month a meal delivery service or menu planning service, maybe a personal trainer, a health coach (contact me), maybe a life coach, a new pair of sneakers, a yoga class, etc. However be careful, as you know most people who buy gym memberships almost never go to the gym.
Make it easy
For example workout at lunch time, if you plan to work out in the morning leave everything ready the night before. If you plant to thoroughly clean your teeth, allow time for it, don’t wait until you are sleepy and tired.
Take the path of least resistance
Some people complicate their lives looking for exotic solutions. To start with something, do the easiest thing you can do.
If you want to be fitter, move more in your daily life don’t wait to have everything you need to go to that famous Barre class. If you want to eat healthier, start by drinking more water and eating more vegetables don’t wait to find out which is the perfect diet for you.
My niece and a friend wanted to do yoga. The friend spend a year reading about yoga, my niece started to do it right away with youtube videos. The friend goes to classes once in a while, my niece has been doing yoga at home few times a week since the first conversation. Guess who is better at yoga and fitter.
Doing something always beats thinking about something. You know the term paralysis by analysis, this is a problem for me and for many people. Sometimes it is better to go Nike “Just do it”
Don’t fear failure
There is no bigger failure than never trying
We all have 24 hours a day. There is that saying, an activity stretches itself to the time allowed. We can limit the time of some activities in order to do others. We can also prioritize, for example no social media until this or that gets done.
For some people the problem is not time, it is energy. In order to have energy you need good nutrition, sleep well, and have less stress.
Eat the frog
This means do what you dread more first thing in the morning. That way it will be out of the way and you will not be thinking about it.
You are wonderful, but you aren’t perfect. Life is beautiful, but it isn’t perfect. Always plan for more time, more effort and more energy than you think you will need. If you don’t do it you may be putting unnecessary stress on yourself and it will be more difficult to reach your goals.
Find joy in the journey
Life is a journey and the joy is in living that journey. Be present as much as you can and just smile at life. Tomorrow you can try again. Always be kind to yourself.