Creating Winning Habits
This is part two of the second blog in our resolution series, How Do You Convince Yourself to Change?. Once you have decided that you want to change and commit to measurable goals, the next step is creating winning habits that will take you to the finish line!
Create Habits that Work for You:
Once you have defined specific goals, build a routine that works for your schedule. If you plan to go to the gym in the morning three days a week, establish a routine that ensures your greatest success in the morning (i.e, put gym clothes on immediately after waking up, set the alarm clock, have breakfast ready to go). If your goal is to spend 10 minutes a day with your spouse to talk, figure out when that time will be, and create rituals that will help facilitate that time. Brew tea, make a cup of coffee, get a notebook where you and your spouse and jot down stories that you want to share or remember. Once you have established routines, and you work the routine out for a couple of months, the activity and mindset will begin to become part of who you are.
Remember the 3:00 o’clock coffee story I shared in my last blog post? Once the habit is established, you no longer have to decide each day to be grateful, to exercise or to eat healthier. Once you become habituated into the pattern, your brain will begin to expect the routine. Just like I anticipated the coffee, you will find yourself anticipating eating the healthy apple during a break at work, you will crave the hugs you receive and give from your loved ones before bolting out the door. And just like every day you automatically seem to brush your teeth or drive yourself to work without thinking about it, your good habits will take over your poor ones and these will ultimately be folded into the very fabric of who you are.
Celebrate the Small Wins:
Success is a series of small wins. Celebrate each day you follow through with your goal. Celebrate after you succeed and celebrate while you are engaging in the activity. You can also create reinforcing activities that motivate you to keep the course when you pair an activity with another enjoyable activity. For example, if your goal is to get on an elliptical 30 minutes a day/3-days a week after work, stream your favorite show only during this time. Or if you love coffee, make sure you have the coffee ready when you spend your distraction-free 10 minutes talking with your spouse. If your goal is play with your kids 15 minutes a day, find an activity you both enjoy doing. Pushing towards a goal will be less of a grind if you find enjoyment in the process.
Write down your goals and achievements. Journal your progress and make a mental note of emotional and/or physical changes that you have experienced. As you savor the small positive changes that take place, you will feel more encouraged to stay on the course.
You can be the biggest obstacle to your own success. Convince yourself to change, and you will have won half the battle.