What New Year resolutions did you make? Have you already fallen off the wagon?
Why is changing a bad habit or creating a new habit so hard?
The brain is a prediction machine, it loves habit! Can you imagine what it would take to consciously think about everything you do? Try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand! Notice all the things that are a bit harder or strange, you’ll probably have to even stand differently!
So what happens at new year’s? We take firmly cemented habits and without preparation we decide we will change ALL of them. If only it was that easy!
There are a few tips though.
1. Only choose 1 or 2 habits to change. Changing habits requires you to be very conscious of what you are doing and is tiring for your brain.
2. Piggy back onto existing routines. Always watch TV in the evening? Well if you want to become more flexible put an exercise mat on the floor of the tv room. Stretch while you are watching Netflix or scrolling on Facebook.
3. Introduce a behaviour that will support what you want to do. Want to eat more healthily? Start by keeping a food journal (an honest one), is there a pattern of when you are likely to eat better/worse? That gives you the areas you need to target rather than your whole menu.
4. Find a buddy. Know someone already in a good routine? Join in. Latest studies are showing that you are likelier to keep to new habits if you are friends with people who also value it.
5. Tell people what you are trying to do and ask them to check in on you. Social pressure is very powerful.
6. Focus on progress, set an achievable goal and work towards it daily, repetition is key.
7. Any other habits you have that will work against you? If you can’t resist the chocolate aisle when you are shopping then get your groceries online.
Know that it gets easier! Willpower is also a habit, the more you exert it the stronger it will get!
What habits are you trying to change?