The 5 Steps That Help You Build a Powerful Habit

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One of the unfortunate facts of life is it is much easier to create and stick to a bad habit than it is to create and stick to a good one. The whys of this go back to the origins of human nature. Suffice to say that when it comes to creating healthy habits, it pays to focus on the positive.

While it’s difficult to try to change old bad habits, it is far more effective to focus on creating new good ones. Doing so actually creates healthier pathways in your brain and makes you more creative.

Creating habits helps alleviate decision-making fatigue by decreasing the number of decisions we have to make. Do things regularly and you won’t have to fret about whether you will or you won’t.  One less decision to stress you out. Bonus: Improving your life.

While conventional wisdom says creating a new habit takes 21-28 days, the UK Health Behavior Research Center’s study that showed it took 66 days on average to form a new habit. Habits are hard to create and harder still to maintain.

So what are some effective ways to foster healthy habits that you can implement in the next 66 days?

The 5 Steps That Help You Build a Powerful Habit

1. Be clear about your goal.

Know exactly what you want. Commit to it.  Make it specific. Write it down. Make it public. Type it in italics to show importance.

2. Strive for consistency over performance.

It matters more how often you do something than how well you do it. So keep doing it.

A great tool to help you get into a routine is to record your progress. It will keep you honest about doing it and keep you focused on your goal.  In the process, most people discover that tracking progress can be a lot of fun.

3. Maintain positivity.

This is easier said than done but there are some basics that will help:

  • Get support. Whether it’s a workout buddy, a coach, or just someone who can talk you out of a funk, you need people like this for encouragement and especially when the going gets tough.  And it will. It doesn’t have to be an individual either. Some people like support groups or prefer to join a team.
  • Use “but” when you start to think negative thoughts or want to give up.  Be aware when your mind is engaging in self-defeating chatter, and find ways to detach from it.
  • Don’t worry if you slide a little. Everyone does. Just acknowledge the trigger that threw you off then get back on the proverbial horse. You have a destination.

4. Recommit…Recommit…Recommit…

Finding ways to bring your focus back to your goal will help you to keep that positive mindset and stick to your routine. Why not:

  • Put up post-its or signs in key places.
  • Send yourself email reminders.
  • Set your written goal as your desktop background.
  • Recommit each Monday.  That way you have 52 chances a year to get remotivated if you get off track or your resolve falters. You can even check out Healthy Monday, a non-profit national public health campaign that encourages people to use Monday as the day for all things healthy.

5. Reward yourself in a way that works for you.

Although it’s debatable whether external incentives and rewards actually help motivate people to take on healthier habits, the intrinsic rewards do the trick.

When long-term exercisers (who had been working out for an average of 13 years) were asked what motivated them to keep up their workouts, the primary reasons had to do with feeling good- the reward was the health benefit they reaped.

Even if you are offering yourself an external or extrinsic reward when you reach a milestone, it may just be the intrinsic rewards that will keep you going.

You can use your tracking method to record where you are in the process and how far you’ve come.  You can track the benefits gained and the pain avoided in addition to the actual quantifiable increases in performance.  Make sure to take note because this knowledge of your success is a reward in and of itself.

Creating Habits: How WellnessFX Can Help

plan-175x300
habit-175x300Did you know that we can help you track your progress and help you create those habits? Through our free mobile app (iOS), you can keep track of your healthy habits and goals by simply checking them off each time you complete them. Over time, you’ll be able to see how you’ve been doing and where you might need some work. You can also set reminders for your habits and add notes. We included some screenshots below. Yes, we know it’s cool. 

Still need to sign up for your free WellnessFX account? We’ve got you covered:

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The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.

Will says:

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”
Warren Buffett

Make sure that the habits you foster are those that you wish never break.