Creating New Habits
So you’ve decided you’re ready to create some more positive habits in your life. You know you should eat better, exercise more and stop complaining but it’s not as easy as knowing what you want to change. Putting a new habit into place and sticking to it is easier said than done. That’s because behaviour change is complex and difficult. We’re are designed to want homeostasis. Homeostasis is the tendency of the body to seek and maintain a condition of balance or equilibrium within its internal environment, even when faced with external changes. This means that we are resistant to change; even if the change might be for the better. Once we have conditioned ourselves to certain behaviours it can be difficult to break them or hard to start new ones. Difficult however doesn’t mean impossible. With the right tools, mindset and guidance creating new habits are just in sight!
Focus and Reflect
When starting a new habit it’s best to take some time to reflect on the habit you want to create. Sit down and spend at least 15 minutes thinking about why you want to create this habit. How will it benefit you? Is this the best way to get the outcome that you want? And Is this new habit feasible? Will you be able to stick to it or is it asking too much to realistically? Don’t forget to have fun with it. Take this time to get excited about your new habit and how good it will feel when it’s a regular part of your life.
When starting a new habit you’ll want to start with a defined about of time to do something. For the purposes of this article we’ll talk about developing a consistent movement practice as the habit we want to create but you could really apply these ideas to any new habit you want to create.
So let’s say you want to develop the habit of a consistent movement practice. Science says that habits take anywhere from 21-40 days to create so we’ll recommend starting your own 30-day movement challenge where you commit to practising movement every day for 30 days. After 30 days this new behaviour becomes a habit and you are more likely to stick to it. At the same time, 30 days is manageable (whereas committing to every day for a year might feel overwhelming and unrealistic). Even if you want to continue past 30 days we recommend 30 days to keep this habit achievable as well as give you a time frame from which to reevaluate. After 30 days you can ask yourself if you want to continue or modify.
Reminders and Triggers
With the age of smartphones setting reminders its never been easier to set reminders. If you use a digital calendar we recommend setting an alert the day of and 2(ish) hours before. Give yourself a reminder with enough notice to be to commute, change, eat or finish up work before you practice. That way even if you forget you’ll still have time to make it to class. That being said if you have a lot of notifications going off on your phone it can be easy to ignore them. If you tend to ignore your phone notifications then we suggest setting up some triggers.
Trigger are events that precede a habit. For example, you could commit to your movement practice first thing in the morning so that waking up is a trigger for your movement practice. If that’s not enough you can set an even stronger trigger such as setting your workout gear the night before so that you see it first thing when you wake up and are reminded to go take class.
Keep it simple
Willpower is like a muscle. We only have so much of it. When we bog down our day many choices and challenges we use up willpower. Reduce the number of choices and difficult tasks you need to do during the day as well as keep difficult choice and commitments to early in the day when willpower is fresh. For example, you can reduce decisions by choosing which classes you will go to at the start of the week by pre-registering and put them on the calendar. Rather than giving yourself the added task of fitting in a class each day and potentially running out of time or energy to make it to class. This helps to keep you accountable as well as reduce the choice of deciding when and what class you will go to each day. Therefore helping you reserve willpower to make it to class, even on days when you don’t feel like it!
Join a challenge
Doing it on your own can be difficult. When you join a group of people doing the same thing it can really help to keep you accountable and to keep spirits high. Having the external pressure of having someone know about your new goal can help increase motivation, even on those days when you really would rather go relax. Changes are you’ll feel better after class and be happy you went!
Our next Movement Challenge will start on November 15th. Joining the challenge is free. Click here for more details!