- The Simple Steps To Create Healthy Habits:
- 1. Find Out What You Want To Change:
- 2. Why Do You Want that Change:
- 3. Set Goals, Simple Small Goals:
- 4. Start With Action Steps Not ‘Habits’:
- 5. Break The Goal:
- 5. Pay Attention To Triggers:
- 6. Replace the Bad With Good:
- 7. Rewards and Appreciation:
- 8. Record Your Progress:
- 9. Have A Backup Plan:
- 10. Acceptance and Empathy:
Everybody wants a healthy life. We all want to get rid of our unhealthy lifestyle. Whether it is too much coffee, quitting cigarette, falling for the desserts and what not! But, is it that simple to do? Every day we say to ourselves that tomorrow is going to be different and new. But when the next day comes, or maybe after a few initial days, don’t we feel a kind of wiring in our brains, that pulls us back to the lifestyle with the same old habits that we wanted to get rid of in the first place? In fact, the wiring is so strong that in the end it makes us feel helpless and we end up feeling that no matter how much we try, nothing is ever going to change. But, and it’s a big but, that’s not true.
The enormous amounts of power and efforts, it requires to bring changes in our old habits can of course not be underestimated. However, it can be done. And to make this happen, we need to understand how our mind works and how can we retrain it the way we want it to work.
Time and now, researchers have given us the glimpse into how complex our human mind is. It has its own way of working. The good thing is it can be rewired, retrained and reconditioned. We just need to know how. After understanding the how, we can make strategies and follow simple steps that are keys to creating healthy habits, even if you are just a beginner.
The Simple Steps To Create Healthy Habits:
The human mind loves to behave like a zombie. It has a resistance towards change, let alone something which it doesn’t find attractive. The truth is, we just cannot strip our mind off of old habits and force it to follow some new things at random. It doesn’t work that way. An intelligent and smart way to do this is to go easy on ourselves, allow ourselves sufficient time and slowly mold it into the desired state. It’s like tricking a child into doing something which is healthy and beneficial for him/her. You have to make it look easy, lucrative and include some perks for the desired behavior. Same is the case with the human mind. Here, we will understand the process of creating healthy habits in some very simple steps and with the help of an interesting example.
1. Find Out What You Want To Change:
What are you struggling with? What is it that you want to change? Find that out. In our case/example, the goal would be quitting sugar. Vague ideas, unclear wishes, and unrealistic expectations would do nothing good for us except consuming our energy and pulling us into a loop of failure and dissatisfaction. Keep in mind, your goal has to be specific and realistic. It might be as small as getting up on time daily or keeping your room clean. It could also be something of a serious nature like getting rid of your anger, your sweet tooth, your smoking or to be regular at exercising. Whatever it is, make a note of it. This would act as your goal.
2. Why Do You Want that Change:
Nothing keeps our mind as motivated as a logical thought process when we have gone through all the reasoning and then arrived at some decision to quit or inculcate something in our life. For example, if you decide to quit the sugar, it is because too much sugar is hampering your health. You are gaining weight, your looks are changing. You might be prone to having diabetes and even a heart problem. These are some very strong reasons to back up your goal of quitting sugar.
As long as the reason to change sounds logical, we will stay on the right track of welcoming and working on the new habits. The reason behind your goal can be personal, related to your family, or improving social life. It can be about your health, like controlling the sugar, losing weight, looking fitter. And anything related to your financial life. For example, getting up early, and being punctual, disciplined to achieve your career goals. Attaching an emotion to your goal is like injecting it with a soul and transforming it into a living thing, that breathes in you all the time.
3. Set Goals, Simple Small Goals:
We often find ourselves tempted to set big, gigantic goals and dream of changing our lives upside down overnight. But, it’s not at all practical. It doesn’t work for very long. Suppose we think of not touching a grain of sugar from today, how long would that plan sustain? Maybe a few days. After that, nothing but a bummer! Instead, what we can choose to do is, reducing the amount or frequency of consuming something sweet. The reason for doing so is that having unrealistic expectations soon exhausts us and we lose interest and fall into the trap of going back to our old habits. And we certainly don’t want this to happen because isn’t this what we have been struggling with all along? The key to saving yourself from falling a victim to this vicious cycle is set very small and doable goal. Work on one goal at a time instead of crushing yourself with multiple expectations.
4. Start With Action Steps Not ‘Habits’:
Take one step at a time. This would mean, focus on one thing that you can do daily and continue for a reasonable length of time. If you have the habit of finishing the whole bowl of ice-cream, restrict it to four tablespoons. In case, you were struggling with going for doughnuts or cake five times a day, try to reduce it to three times a day. Choosing small action steps are very effective and really take us the long way. In the beginning, these very small action steps might look meaningless and we may begin to wonder if they are any good at all! But, trust us, they really do make a huge difference, though, it might not be very visible in the beginning. Action steps are effective in ways because they are small, realistic, fun-to-do and really motivating. You finish one small step and feel motivated. Your self-confidence and self-esteem begin to grow. And you start to look forward to the whole process with a highly positive attitude.
5. Break The Goal:
The biggest mistake we do is crushing ourselves with an annual goal. Rings a bell! Remember the new year goals that never work? Why. Because they have no structure. They lack planning. In the sugar example, break the goal into a daily, weekly and monthly goals. This means you would eat only four tablespoons of ice-cream daily for a week. After you successfully done this, in the second week, you would bring it down to three tablespoons of ice-cream daily for that whole week and so on. You would get a major result in one month, after following this strategy.
5. Pay Attention To Triggers:
We are constantly surrounded by a typical kind of atmosphere which has a huge impact on what we do and why we do what we do. This means asking yourself what makes you crave for sugar all the time. Is it because you are having low nutrition? Maybe you need more sleep because you have no energy and through craving for something sweet your body is trying to compensate for the immediate requirement of instant calories. It can even be that you are feeling sad or depressed and having something sweet lifts your mood. You have to observe for yourself in order to know the real reason behind your craving.
6. Replace the Bad With Good:
In simpler words, you really want something sweet, have an apple instead of a pastry. Keep more fruits, nuts, and fibers around you that are easy to eat, delicious and at the same time provide instant calories to your body. Smoothies, peanuts, raisins, and bananas are just a few examples. The constant appearance of unhealthy and toxic triggers can prove disastrous to our goals. Whereas, healthy triggers can indirectly motivate us to change our behavior and take it to the desired state. Our surroundings are filled with numerous triggers. They are both positive and negative. It is an important step to beware of the negative trigger and stay away from it and recognize the positive triggers and keep them around you. After all, our will-power is like an elastic. You can only stretch it so much.
7. Rewards and Appreciation:
We are all kids at heart. We all love to be appreciated for our little efforts and rewards are like a cherry on the cake. Become your own appreciator. Whenever you have accomplished a small weekly, monthly or even daily goal, treat yourself with a reward. It could be an outing, a dessert, watching an episode of your favorite TV series or as simple as going to a spa or going for a long drive. Rewards encourage us to keep doing the better things and act as reinforcing reminders.
8. Record Your Progress:
The easiest and best way to do that is taking a red bold marker and a huge wall calendar that is in front of your eyes all the time. Each day you follow the planned action-step, mark that day with a bold red cross. In a week, it will change into a trail of red crosses. This would become a symbol of your successful week and act as a deep motivator. On the other hand, missing a day would be quite enough to bring you back on the promised routine and in both the cases, it would be a win-win situation for you.
9. Have A Backup Plan:
It’s okay to lose track and fail so many times. It’s quite natural in fact. That does not mean we should stop trying. If you went for that ice-cream bowl again last night, start again from the next morning. Whenever we plan to do something different, there would always be hurdles, distractions, or unpredictable events that might derail us. Considering these issues, it becomes very necessary for us to have a backup plan. In case, things don’t go the way we expected them to go, then what? Ask yourself these questions and prepare a plan for alternative actions that would help you get back on the track.
10. Acceptance and Empathy:
We tend to become harsh towards ourselves if we see ourselves deterring from the decided path. But that is not fair. We are emotional beings by nature. Our mind works in a very complicated and funny way. At the same time, in today’s age, we are surrounded by so many temptations and distractions that it is pretty natural for us to give in and lose track occasionally. If we want a change in our habit, that requires deep efforts, we need to have a positive and accepting mindset toward ourselves. Making mistakes should be allowed as it just reflects that we are trying.
Empathy is a great virtue. We often have it towards others. But when it comes to us, we become judgmental and hypercritical. This causes great damages to our self-image and motivation level. Keeping the same state of commitment all the time is not possible. There will come moments when we would fall prey to old habits, conditioning, and temptations. It becomes essential for us to create space for such fallbacks too. So that, we can forgive ourselves, rise up again and restart.
While everyone has a different amount of willpower, following these simple steps and strategies would work for anybody who wants to create healthy habits in his/her own life, even if he/she is trying it for the first time. Whatever be the case, just remember that not backing down and simply continuing our journey is one of the greatest possible achievements and so, we should never give up on ourselves!