In this article we break down the 4 step process to creating and sustaining new healthy habits. Let's get into it!
Step 1: Noticing
Many people think they lack motivation, but what they actually lack is clarity. They think they need will power and discipline to get started, but that just isn’t true. They just need a plan. You can take the decision making out of habit formation by establishing When, Where, and How you’re going to implement a habit. When you attend a strategy session at the quad, we like to pinpoint answers to these three questions:
When are you going to workout? Is at 5:30am? What do you know for sure that you can commit to?
Where are you going to workout? Are you working out at the quad or are you an online training client?
How are you going to workout? With a trainer for 30 minutes focusing on strength training
You have to give your goals a time and place in the world or they will get pushed away and forgotten about.
One way to prioritize your goals is to use “Failure Pre- Mortem” approach.
Ask yourself “If I don’t reach my goal, how will this effect me in 6 months?” Will you be in any better shape? Will you feel better?
This can also show us what challenges may derail the path to the goal. This gives us the opportunity to create an “if then, plan”. For instance, if I don’t have time to workout, then I will walk for 20 minutes in the evening. If I am going on a work trip, then I will look for healthy food options near my hotel ahead of time.
Step 2: Wanting
One of the most overlooked drivers of your habits is your physical environment. We typically want things because they’re an option. Like junk food in the pantry, Ice cream in the freezer, cake in the fridge.
You don’t have to be a victim of your environment, you can even be the architect. Want to eat healthier? Only have healthy food options available. Get rid of junk food and sweets. Want to practice guitar more often? Place your guitar in the middle of your living room so every time you walk by it you’re reminded to practice. Want to read more? When you make your bed in the morning, place a good book on your pillow so that when you go to bed the same day, you’re reminded to read. Remember that it’s very difficult to stick to a positive habit, in a negative environment.
Step 3: Doing
When creating a new habit, we tend to have this crazy idea that we’re going to do things perfectly from the start. That’s just not going to happen. Rather than striving for perfection when starting a new habit, just focus on getting your reps in. You have to know that you’re not going to be an expert right away and that’s okay.
To start a new habit, we should “optimize for the starting line, not the finish line”. Make starting the habit as easy as possible. If you want to run a marathon, start by running 5 minutes. Do it every day until you feel like you can run for 10 minutes. You aren’t automatically going to be able to run 26.2 miles, so start with something you can repeat every day until you feel the need to increase the distance.
Step 4: Liking
The only reason we repeat behaviors is because we like them. When creating a new habit you need to experience rewards along the way.
For good habits, we rarely experience immediate rewards. Take exercise for example. The act of exercising is pretty difficult in relation to most things we do. And we often don’t see noticeable results for months. Another example is eating healthy. It can be difficult to change your eating habits and body composition changes are hard to see just by looking in the mirror.
And on the opposing side, eating something sweet like candy or ice cream is immediately rewarding. We have an instant flood of dopamine once they hit our taste buds, but if eaten in excess you could see weight gain and health complications down the road.
To make a healthy habit or a new habit more enticing, you have to give yourself a reward in the present moment. These rewards don’t have to be much either. One way to reward ourselves while lifting weights is to track how much weight we are lifting for each exercise week to week. After enough consecutive days of tracking, you will start to see an upward trend in the weight you’re lifting. Boom, there’s your reward. You can see that you’re getting stronger.
Tracking your daily food intake can be tough as well, but when you see your physique changing in your weekly progress photos (another good habit if you’re trying to lose weight) the task starts to become less of a burden and just part of your weekly schedule.
The easiest way to create a new long term behavior is to get a large wall calendar and mark an X on the day that you completed your new habit. Once you get a few days in a row, your goal is to not break the chain. However, life gets in the way at times. And if you ever do miss a day, your goal should be to never miss twice. Get back to your new habit as soon as possible.
Change who you are
With consistency and repetition, you can change your identity. The more you repeat a habit, the more it becomes who you are. The goal should not to just read a book, the goal should be to become a reader. The goal isn’t to run a marathon, the goal is to become a runner.
If you exercise everyday, you will eventually start to believe that you’re a fit person. Remember that “every action you take is a vote for the type of person you with to become”.
Are you ready to become the best version of yourself? Click the link below to schedule a Strategy Session.