“Habits seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous.” This quote by James Clear the author of Atomic Habits, is spot on!
It is consistency that either brings us closer to or farther from our goals. We can be consistent with poor habits that will eventually take us far away from our goals. Or, we can be consistent with better habits that will allow us to achieve our goals. We may not feel that one workout will change anything, but that one workout combined with another workout and another workout that will pay dividends in the long run. If we pay more attention to our daily habits, we will accomplish so much more down the road.
If you are having trouble being consistent, try these steps to help!
- Make sure your current self-belief/identity supports the habit you are working on. This is crucial. The easiest example to think of is someone who is trying to quit smoking. If they are trying to quit, but still identify as a smoker, it won’t be long until they start smoking again. If you are trying to become a healthier person do you identify yourself as a healthy person, in the present, or do you have some other not so nice self-beliefs? It helps to write out the identity/beliefs that you need to support your goal in the present tense and put it somewhere you will see.
- Make it as easy as possible. Think about how you can set your environment up for success and take away any obstacles. If your goal is to eat breakfast every morning, you first need to make sure you have the food in the house and get up early enough to eat it. Brainstorming easy options that don’t require much time and even making food that would just need to be reheated or could be eaten cold would be helpful. Planning when you will grocery shop and when you will prepare your food are other necessary steps. Maybe going to bed earlier needs to be part of the plan in order to wake up earlier. Do you need a reminder in the kitchen? Also, having a back-up plan in case you over sleep and a get-back-on-track plan if you miss a day or two is important. The more details you can think of on the front end the better.
- Make it enjoyable. No one wants to repeatedly do something they hate. It can be helpful to try to find ways to make your habit as enjoyable as possible. Sticking with the breakfast example, choose food that you enjoy and will help you reach your goal. If you don’t like fried eggs, don’t included them in your breakfast options. If you love scrambled eggs make that part of your breakfast rotation. Maybe you love cooking, but not in the mornings. Try out some egg casseroles or other dishes on the weekend that you can reheat during the week.
- Connect it to something that you already do. By connecting it to something that you already do it becomes a little easier to make sure you complete your habit that day. For breakfast, if you pour yourself a cup of coffee every morning you could then make eating breakfast the next thing you do. The coffee is already a daily habit so it can serves as a great reminder and the new habit becomes pour coffee then eat breakfast.
- Grab a friend or join a group where your desired behavior is the norm. Having the accountability of an outside source can be very helpful and knowing that you are working on the same goal as someone else is reassuring. Being part of a gym community can make working out easier and having a friend to swamp breakfast photos each morning can help with your breakfast habit.
- Check in on your habit daily. As you are working on a new habit it is helpful to check in to make sure you have completed it each day. If you have a planner or a wellness journal, you can mark it off or give yourself a tally each time you do your desired habit. I love tracking my workouts. I find an extra sense of accomplishment and it’s cool to see how many workouts I complete each year.
- Know that you will not always want to do your habit. It’s important to acknowledge that you will not always want to do your habit and it’s okay to do it anyways. I found myself spending a lot of mental energy debating whether or not I was going to do my workouts. (Note there is a difference between being sick, injured, or over trained and just not really feeling like a workout. If you are sick, injured, or over trained don’t workout.) When I let go of that decision I had so much more energy to give to my workout. I knew I may not be excited at the beginning of each workout, but I will feel better and be glad I did it after. I bottle these moments up and hit the save bottom. The next time I am supposed to work out and I don’t feel like it, I can think back to the last time I was in this situation and how glad I was after I completed my workout. Having the other checks in place, like the self-belief/identity, making it as easy as possible, connecting it to something you already do, having the accountability and support of others, and being able to check it off are all actions that put completing your habit in your favor. If you still find yourself constantly struggling with a habit, take a step back to think about why. Is it too challenging? Do you need to chnage when you do your habit? Do you need to make it easier to do? Do you not really want that big picture goal? Once you have your answers you can adjust as needed and more forward!
What habit will you start working on?