Do you want to lose body fat, be healthier, or achieve some kind of milestone in your career? The goal in itself is not that relevant. The key differentiator in your success is the incorporation of habits that will take you to the finish line.
What is a habit? A habit is a “recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.” In other words, a habit is a behavior or activity that you do on a regular basis that’s semi-automatic. It’s something you do that is a consistent part of your day or week.
According to the book, Atomic Habits, habits need to follow certain laws of behavior change in order to stick. The habit or new behavior that you want to implement needs to be cued by the environment, needs to fulfill some type of craving, needs to be achievable, and needs to be satisfying.
The following are some concrete steps to help you form a new habit:
- Commit for 30 Days: Repetition allows a habit to be formed. So you should engage in the habit regularly for at least a month. This allows you to incorporate it into your routine and become automatic. Try to stick to one habit at a time.
- Spell Out Your Goal: You must define your goal, making it concrete and assessable. Write down your goal using the S.M.A.R.T. acronym (Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Relevant – Time-limited). Connect your goal to something significant so it takes root deep within you. Proceed to write down the reasons why you want that goal, your pain points, the foreseen benefits for you and others when you achieve the goal. The goals of losing weight or being healthier are too vague and difficult to implement. Instead, plan to lose 10 pounds of body fat in 3 months by exercising 3 days a week and eating healthy, or plan to have your blood pressure within normal ranges in 6 months by changing your diet and working out.
- Create a Realistic Action Plan: Make your habit a priority and schedule it on your calendar. Delineate how you’ll make the habit a part of your day or week. In order to make a habit an automatic behavior, it has to be doable and not very complicated. If needed, take baby steps and make micro-commitments towards a more intense habit. Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds of body fat in 3 months. Planning to eat 2 salads a day for 3 months is not really sustainable. You should have a realistic caloric goal with a meal plan that describes all your meals throughout the day with foods that you are willing to eat.
- Plan for Obstacles: Be proactive and think about all the possible stumbling blocks that you may encounter and how can you address them. In this way, you can be prepared and ready to move forward.
- Make the Habit Part of Your Identity: In order to incorporate certain activities into your routine, you have to frame your whole persona with the habit in mind and see yourself as a person who regularly engages in those activities. You need to believe that the habit is part of who you are. Let’s say you want to eat healthier. So, you shouldn’t see yourself as a fast-food eater but someone who enjoys whole-food meals.
- Attach the Habit to a Current Behavior: Connect it to something you already do and give yourself visible cues. Let’s say you want to start working out after work. Then, you should keep a gym bag on a passenger seat so you are reminded, once you get in your car heading home, that you should go to the gym or park first.
- Get Accountable: People are more likely to follow through with a plan when they are observed by others. Get a coach or an accountability buddy to get fully committed to implementing changes.
- Make the Habit Satisfying: Plan on ways to make the habit enjoyable and/or connect it to something pleasurable. You can, also, reward yourself to reinforce your effort and consistency.
Your goals are important. Achieve them by forming habits that mobilize you toward the right direction. Follow the tips described above so you can incorporate those habits into your life and experience long-lasting change. Check out 28 Days to a New Life to incorporate a holistic approach and make changes in all areas of your life.
To a Fitter Healthier You,
The Fitness Wellness Mentor