How Do You Build Good Habits?
How Do You Build Good Habits?
We all have things we know we should be doing to improve our lives. But, for some reason we may seem to have trouble transforming our intentions into good habits; whether it’s exercising more, watching what we eat, or whatever goals we may have.
When you know that you should make a change in your life, how do you find your motivation to make that change and then continue that behavior on a regular basis? For the purpose of this article I’m going to use the examples of exercise and diet, two things virtually everyone wants to change for the better at some time in their life.
You are the product right now of your past actions and habits, both good and bad. Why do you exercise as much or as little as you do? Why do you eat the way you eat? In a large part it’s your past and current habits that have molded your current situation.
Your habits have probably formed as a combination of your self image and the strength of your desire to change.
Let’s start by talking about self image. If you see yourself as being physically fit then chances are that you will take part in activities that keep you physically fit. If you see yourself as being thin then you won’t have that second helping at dinner and will pass on dessert. On the other hand, if you see yourself as being out of shape and overweight then you will subconsciously try to justify that image by continuing habits that perpetuate that picture of yourself. Build a positive image of yourself that will reinforce positive changes.
The second factor that I want to discuss is the strength of your desire to change versus the perceived amount of effort required to make the change. The strength of your willingness to change is influenced by how important you feel the change will be in your life. If your doctor tells you that you are developing diabetes you may start to seriously watch your diet. When you hear about a friend who just had a heart attack you may be motivated to exercise more.
You don’t have to wait for the threat of a serious consequence to move you to action. You can start right now. When you set your goals and begin to establish good habits don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by trying to make major changes all at once. Break your goals into small pieces. Prepare yourself to win. Structure your goals and your habits to have little victories almost immediately to build your self confidence. Don’t be discouraged by minor setbacks. Set a target for yourself to reach a certain goal in 30 days. If you find that in 30 days you’ve only reached 50% of your goal, rather than being discouraged and stopping your efforts understand that at the end of another 30 days you can accomplish the second 50%.
By molding your self image, deciding to make a change, and breaking down the actions required into measurable steps you can build good habits that will last a lifetime