The key to making and keeping new healthy habits
With the new year comes a fresh start and for many people an opportunity to make some positive changes in their lives. With great intentions, they head off into the new year determined to make a go of this year’s resolutions. Too often, busy lives take over and resolutions are abandoned after just a few weeks. Forming new, positive daily habits is a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Read on for some advice on how to incorporate a new habit into your daily routine and make your 2022 resolutions stick!
Pick one goal.
Don’t spread your willpower too thin. Focusing on one goal at a time will increase your chances of actually achieving it.
Look at the small picture.
Rather than setting a resolution for the whole year, start with one month or even one week. Your goal should feel attainable with as little pressure as possible.
Make a sub-habit.
There are things you do every single day without even thinking about it: brushing your teeth, feeding the dog, walking into the house after work, you get the idea. Try setting your goal as a sub-habit of one of your already established daily habits. For example, “after I feed the dog, I will take him for a ten-minute walk” or “when I walk in the door after work, I will put my workout clothes on and run one mile”.
Take it one (baby) step at a time.
When forming a new habit, a low-level commitment is much easier to work into your day. Start with simple tasks that make it almost impossible to fail. Once you get started, you may find yourself doing more. Here are some suggestions for daily micro-commitments:
- Take a 5-minute walk
- Write one paragraph in your journal
- Eat one serving of vegetables
Plan for obstacles.
Weather, time, cost or illness will no doubt present a challenge in achieving your goal of forming a new healthy habit. Plan ahead for challenges and be ready to work through them. Come up with “if-then” statements to help make it over predictable stumbling blocks;
- If I am not able to sustain the cost of a gym membership, I will walk in my neighborhood or local mall
- If I am not able to walk outside due to weather, I will do floor exercises in the basement for 20 minutes
- If I’m not feeling well enough to walk or do a full work out, I will lift weights for 10 minutes
Hold yourself accountable.
We all have the friend that checks in at the gym every day on social media. Well, maybe they have the right idea. When your progress is monitored or witnessed by others, you are more likely to follow-through with your commitment. Consider creating or joining a group with similar goals, and post or text each other when you complete your daily goal. You may also want to tell your primary care physician about your goals and expect to follow-up next year or at your next exam.
Take time to celebrate your success! Having something to look forward to will motivate you along the way. Choose rewards that support your new healthy habit – avoid rewarding yourself with sugary treats or days off from your new habit. Instead, download new music for your workout routine, see a movie, or grab lunch with a friend.
Have you scheduled your 2022 wellness exam? Make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss some health goals that may benefit your physical and psychological well-being.
Originally published January 2020