How to break a bad habit (and make a new one) and get what you want.
It’s January. The holidays are over, there are no more Christmas leftovers in the fridge (including my famous pudding – thank goodness, I was starting to look like one!) and we have welcomed in the new year with friends or family and possibly a few too many alcoholic beverages (no judgement here).
For many of us we are back to work and school is about to return, so we are slowly starting to get back into a normal routine. This is the perfect time to make some changes to improve your health.
Why new year’s resolutions don’t work.
Did you made any new years resolutions this year? How are they going?
Typically, they don’t last very long. The reason is usually because the resolution is a wish rather than a goal that you can break down into actionable steps. Wishing you were thinner is very different to creating specific mini-goals and strategies such as meal planning, scheduling exercise, etc.
A clear vision, planning and action are all required, otherwise your resolution will simply be a pipe dream.
Creating the vision, goal setting and planning.
What do you want to achieve?
Perhaps you want to lose weight, run a marathon, reduce stress or improve your gut health. Whatever your goal is, make it specific. You might like to create a vision board or write a paragraph about what it will feel like when you have achieved your goal. Get excited by it!
Once you have your vision clear in your mind, it is important that you create some medium and short term goals to get you there. Make sure you are creating SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Action orientated, Realistic and Time-framed. For example, “I will lose 1kg this week by following my meal plan and walking for 30 minutes daily.”
Identify your unique strengths and abilities (yes, you have them!) such as being organised or resilient. These are your resources that will help you achieve your goals. If you struggle to identify your own strengths, think back to previous times in your life when you were able to achieve something great and think about what it took for you to do it.
Now ask yourself, “What could get in the way?” Identifying obstacles to success – including yourself! – means you can plan a workaround. For every obstacle, I want you to write down some ideas on how you can overcome it. Be creative with your ideas!
Fear of failure.
How many times have you stopped yourself from doing something because you were scared to fail? If fear of failure is holding you back and you worry about what others will think of you, then don’t. The reality is that without failure and mistakes we never actually learn anything.
Low self-esteem can be crippling for many and one of the greatest obstacles to achieving our goals. For myself personally I have always had that little voice in the back of mind that says ‘you’re not good enough.’ These days I choose to feel the fear and do it anyway. Try it for yourself. It feels great!
“There will always be someone who can’t see your worth. Don’t let it be you.” Betty Rocker
Changing behaviour is essentially about changing habits.
Now you have developed a clear vision and a goal (or goals), and you have identified your strengths and obstacles and have a plan to overcome them. You have acknowledged the fear you are feeling (and you’re going to do it anyway right?). Now it’s time for ACTION.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellent then, is not an act, but a habit.” William Durant
The first thing you need to do is create a cue. This is particularly important for when you are swapping a bad habit for a healthier one. The cue needs to be visible so you can’t say you ‘forgot’ to do it. Now just seeing the running shoes on the floor or having your alarm on your phone go off to remind you to prepare your shopping list and meal plan for the week ahead isn’t enough. You have to actually DO something.
This is your time to be like Nike and just do it.
Don’t get into a conversation with yourself about all of the reasons why you can’t do it; if it’s in the diary, you do it. Because creating a new habit is about repetition and one day it won’t be an effort anymore, it will just be something you do.
“Ultimately, your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you wish to be. They are the channel through which you develop your deepest beliefs about yourself. Quite literally, you become your habits.” James Clear
Falling off the wagon.
Change is hard and it’s easy to fall back into bad habits, especially when you are stressed. It can be so tempting to reach for that junk food or wine to make yourself feel better (because that is what you have always done). Of course it doesn’t and you end up feeling guilt and shame instead.
I say ditch the guilt and shame. They are wasted emotions. Instead go back and identify your triggers and consider these as obstacles to overcome in future. How can you do things differently next time?
Remember this an opportunity for learning. It is not a failure.
Replace negative with positive thoughts. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and just keep on swimming.
The satisfaction you feel as the kg’s start to fall off or the new zest for life you have found with a reduction in workplace stress can be enough to keep you going. Achieving the vision brings a whole different level of satisfaction as you reflect on the hard work you put in. But it is still important to reward yourself throughout the journey and celebrate those small achievements.
Some examples of rewards could include a massage, facial, new shoes, new dress (possibly in a smaller size!) or even something bigger such as a holiday. Whatever it is, it should make you feel good!
Stay focused and accountable.
Having the right support team around you is the key to success. If you need help staying on track, employ a friend or get professional help from a coach, counsellor, specialised group such as the quit smoking program, or other professional such as your wonderful Naturopath!
Remember, you don’t get what you wish for. You get what you work for.
If you are ready to take the next step in your health journey and achieve your goals, book an appointment today. I’d love to help you.