3 Ways to Stick To
A NEW HABIT
What’s your morning routine? In other words, what are the first few things you do in the morning? Shower, grab a a protein shake…or a muffin?
If you want your life to be better, it’s all about choices. Specifically, choosing to be healthier and happier more fit, and more self-satisfied. These are the most profound choices you’ll ever make, because they have the power to change everything else in your life.
We all make choices every day…Now or later? Here or there? Him or her? This or that? Should I or shouldn’t I?
In fact, you could reasonably say that life is an endless series of choices. They confront us every waking minute. Watch TV or read the paper? Exercise before work our sleep in? Hot fudge sundae or fresh raspberries?
Even when we’re unaware of the choices or don’t recognize them as such, they’re still there to be made…and these choices become habits.
Look around you. Where you are right now is the destination that represents every step you’ve ever taken, every road you’ve ever traveled down, every choices you’ve ever made. Whatever those habits were, however small or large they seemed at the time…which book to read, what shoes to wear…they’re all pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that form a picture of you today. Each one, in its own way, contributed something to making your life what it is today.
If you don’t like where you are right now, don’t despair. You always have choices available to you, which means if you’re not satisfied, you can always make life better. It’s time to begin making better habits, ones that lead to somewhere you want to be. Remember, life is about getting better all the time.
Here are 3 tips, backed by research, for forming new healthy habits. from Tara Parker Pope’s New York Times article, How to Build Healthy Habits.
“Stack your habits. The best way to form a new habit is to tie it to an existing habit, experts say. Look for patterns in your day and think about how you can use existing habits to create new, positive ones.
For many of us, our morning routine is our strongest routine, so that’s a great place to stack on a new habit. A morning cup of coffee, for example, can create a great opportunity to start a new one-minute meditation practice. Or, while you are brushing your teeth, you might choose to do squats or stand on one foot to practice balance.
Many of us fall into end-of-the-day patterns as well. Do you tend to flop on the couch after work and turn on the TV? That might be a good time to do a single daily yoga pose.
Start small. B.J. Fogg, a Stanford University researcher and author of the book “Tiny Habits,” notes that big behavior changes require a high level of motivation that often can’t be sustained. He suggests starting with tiny habits to make the new habit as easy as possible in the beginning. Taking a daily short walk, for example, could be the beginning of an exercise habit. Or, putting an apple in your bag every day could lead to better eating habits.
In his own life, Dr. Fogg wanted to start a daily push-up habit. He started with just two push-ups a day and, to make the habit stick, tied his push-ups to a daily habit: going to the bathroom. He began by, after a bathroom trip, dropping and doing two push-ups. Now he has a habit of 40 to 80 push-ups a day.
Do it every day. British researchers studied how people form habits in the real world, asking participants to choose a simple habit they wanted to form, like drinking water at lunch or taking a walk before dinner. The study, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, showed that the amount of time it took for the task to become automatic — a habit — ranged from 18 to 254 days. The median time was 66 days!
The lesson is that habits take a long time to create, but they form faster when we do them more often, so start with something reasonable that is really easy to do. You are more likely to stick with an exercise habit if you do some small exercise — jumping jacks, a yoga pose, a brisk walk — every day, rather than trying to get to the gym three days a week. Once the daily exercise becomes a habit, you can explore new, more intense forms of exercise.”