HABITS – want to make them stick? Read this.

SO many of us set a goal, for example waking up early to workout, try and make it stick and before you know it’s Day 3 and you’re snoozing through your alarms. Game over. How the hell do you form a habit and make it stick? How do you make something a subconscious routine.

I have the answer (thank me later)

If your end target is to become healthier, fitter, stronger, lose some weight, feel better, you need to get whatever you need to do to achieve it on lockdown. Then it will seem far more realistic.

Firstly, what is a habit?

A habit is something which regularly occurs due to a cue, without having to actively think about it.

It’s not a nagging task which feels like chore, it is something which you find yourself doing without planning it, dreading it, thinking about, working around it and most importantly, without forgetting about it.

How to form a habit?

There are a number of steps you need to take to form a habit. A habit needs to include the following:

  • A cue
  • An action
  • A reward

CUE

There’s a link between cue and action, in other words, being in a certain situation causes you to do a certain action.

  • Usually a habit is a result of a combination of cues. For example, cooking dinner is a habit cued partly by walking into the kitchen, but you don’t start cooking dinner every time you walk into the kitchen otherwise you’d be having dinner multiple times throughout the day (I mean you may do this but I’d advise you to stop). There are other cues too such as the time, it must be the evening and you must also be hungry.
  • You’re best off creating a habit to happen straight after a habit that already exists. Why? Because you’re already in a routine and that existing habit could act as a cue for another habit. A lot of people find it harder to work out on the weekends, even though they have more free time, because their weekends lack structure. Without the structure of existing habits, there’s nothing to cue you to get you up in the morning and moving.

ACTION

So you want to workout every morning but you firstly need to look at your larger goal and know what is is you’re trying to achieve overall. Once you’ve got your end goal set, you then need to look at the steps you need to take to get there.

  • Start small. Be realistic with your habits and goals otherwise you’ll get annoyed you’re not achieving them and become demotivated.
  • Make sure your goals are clear. Clear goals mean you don’t spend a whole load of effort forming habits for very small results.
  • Goals help you achieve more by helping you quantify your efforts and therefore, stay motivated.
  • Think about what you’re trying to achieve by attending fitness classes everyday or working out everyday, even if it’s 20 mins. Are you trying to build habits to help lose weight? Habits of a fit person? Habits to help you eat healthier?

REWARDS

You need to reward yourself when you’ve achieved your action in a way that reinforces it as a habit as opposed to motivate you to do it.

  • Your reward needs to be sustainable. For example, if it’s something you want to make a daily habit you can’t reward yourself with new clothes or you’ll be broke in a matter of weeks. Your reward should be a quick pat on the back received straight away and that makes you feel really good.
  • Your reward also needs to be something you cannot get unless you have completed the action. Maybe it’s a visit to your favourite coffee shop on the way back from the Studio or maybe you can walk through your favourite park and see your favourite ducks. Whatever floats your boat. These small and easy to implement rewards are the sort of you thing you should be aiming for. They are something you can do on the way home from a class and they won’t be detrimental to your goal.

You also shouldn’t be taking the action just to get the reward or giving yourself a reward to make you enjoy the action. You need to enjoy the action regardless, for example if you don’t like spinning but you love barre, don’t go spinning in the hope you might eventually start enjoying it because of that cup of coffee that’s waiting for you.

 

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