You have made the decision and created a goal. That is a great step in the right direction. Now it’s time to go from goal to something you can stick with for the rest of your life. In other words, it’s time to make that new behavior a habit.
They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I like to think of it more like a shift in mindset and that can happen on day one, or it can take you much longer than 21 days to make that shift. What you need to do is accept that the new behavior is the new normal. Of course that’s easier said than done. Here are a few tips to help you build those better habits.
Practice – Practice – Practice
Practice makes perfect. Even if you slip up and don’t stick to your goal 100%, keep going and work on it every single day. Practice making smart choices. Cook some healthy food. Go for a walk on your lunch break and try to cut back on the amount of cigarettes you smoke. Cut back on the lunches you eat out and try to do something free on the weekend if living more frugally is your goal. Keep practicing and you’ll start to get into the habit of doing things the new way.
Make It Easy To Form The New Habits
You also want to make it as easy as possible to stick to your new habits. If you’re trying to eat healthier, keep the cookies out of the house. If you’re trying to get back into shape, keep a bag with workout clothes in your car and the sneakers by the door. If you want to pay off your credit cards and avoid charging anything else on them, freeze the cards (literally). Do what you can to remove temptations to slip back into old “bad” habits.
Catch Yourself Early When You Slip Back Into Your Old Ways
Pay attention to your behavior and start to recognize when, how and under what circumstances you’re most likely to slip back into your old habits. Keeping a journal may help you do that.
Can you stick to your healthy diet until 6pm when you are getting tired and are ready to wind down with some TV and late night snacking? Just being aware of what’s happening will help you muster the willpower to stop it. It can also be helpful to replace old rituals with new ones. Replace that bowl of ice cream or bag of chips you’d munch on at night with a cup of herbal tea. Make it part of your new evening ritual. Catch yourself before you slip back into your old ways and keep creating new habits that you can stick with for life.