As I write this we are at the start of January and there are diets and juice cleanses flying around all over the place. There on our social media, in adverts and in practically 90% of every conversation we have with someone.
I use to BE one of those people who was always on a diet in January. I would have binged and then practically force fed myself over the Christmas period with the knowledge and promise that I would be “sorting it out” in January.
After MANY years of “failing” within the first few weeks and then deciding to just give up chocolate for lent instead – which starts around Easter – I finally learnt how to free myself from binge eating (and dieting – they go hand in hand) and to build healthy habits that supported my goals instead.
I had to let go of the black or white mentality which was super hard for me but with the help and support of my coach I did it! It wasn’t until I allowed myself to flirt around in the grey area (the colourful area I like to call it!) of life in general – including food and exercise – was I able to fully embrace the sustainability that comes from building healthy habits with a balanced mindset.
I’m going to share with you 7 simple steps (most of the time all we actually need is simplicity but we always like to overcomplicate things) to “stick” to healthy habits so that you can reap the benefits of them without having to start again every January or every Monday!
Step 1 – Time to set some goals!
Time to set some goals! – but most likely not in the same way as you’ve previously set goals before. This time, you are going to decide what your goal is via how you want to feel.
Yes you heard that right, you’re going to set goals and therefore habits around how you want to feel.
So how do you want to feel?
Choose the feeling or feelings that you desire that you’re not experiencing in your life – but only choose one at a time to do this process with.
Step 2 – Write down your WHY.
Write down your WHY. Your why is the reason why you want to feel the way you desire to feel. It’s your passion for wanting to achieve the feeling. If you get clear with your why and write it down, you’re 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals!!!
Worth the effort wouldn’t you say…?
Step 3 – Brainstorm habits
Next step is to brainstorm different habits that will support and bring your desired feeling to fruition. Literally, write in the middle of a piece of paper your desired feeling and then around it brainstorm habits that will lead you to that desired feeling.
It’s important to note that when planning food and eating habits always ADD IN do not TAKE AWAY.
For example, let’s say your feeling goal is to feel energised. You start brainstorming and you write down a few habits that you think will lead you to feel energised. You write down:
Stop eating sugar
Cut out carbs
Stop watching Netflix
This will not lead you feeling energised. This will cause you to focus on what you can’t have and then you’ll want it even more. 😉 And you will actually feel miserable, deprived and annoyed. Far from energised.
Instead, if you write down habits such as:
Eat veggies with every meal.
Eat a balanced amount of carbs, fats and proteins at every meal for satiation.
Get 8 hours sleep a night.
Do something every day that you I will forward to.
Take an afternoon 20 minute power nap.
Drink more water.
Workout out 3/4 times a week.
you will feel energised! You will be focusing on the things that you are adding in that will help you to feel energised.
Step 4 – Pick ONE habit
Only pick one (ok, up to three habits max) to start with. Look at your brainstorm and pick 1-3 habits that you think will take you closer to your feeling goal.
Step 5 – Create a POA
Create a Plan Of Action – now you will need to think about how you are going to implement this habit into your life.
What are you going to do and when, where and how?
Write it down.
Plan it in your agenda. What days and times are you going to do it?
Get someone to hold you accountable. Who can hold you to your promise apart from yourself? (A coach, friend, partner etc.)
Do it together with your partner or a friend. Joint effort. Who will do this with you?
Get support. Who can support you through making this change? (A coach, friend, partner etc).
Set up your environment so that it supports you. How can you change your environment so that it supports your new habit?
In order to create the best possible outcome for ourselves, we need to set up a trigger response that either replaces or immediately follows an already ingrained habit, in order to perform our new habit consistently and “stick to it”.
Your feeling goal is energised.
The habit you have picked from your brainstorm to help you to feel this way is to sleep for 8 hours a night.
In order to get 8 hours kip, you need to go to bed an hour and a half earlier than you are doing now.
You know that currently when you’ve watched 2 of your Netflix series back to back, you then get up to go and make a cup of tea. You then sit down and watch another 2 series.
In order to go to bed 1.5 hours earlier you would need to stop watching the other 2 series after you’ve made your cup of tea.
So your trigger would be the first watch of 2 series and the get up to go and make a cup of tea.
But instead of doing that, you get up, go and make yourself a cup of hot chocolate instead – or anything that is caffeine-free (to help with sleep) and you sit and read for 10 minutes whilst you drink. THEN you go upstairs and make yourself ready for bed.
Trigger = watched 2 series.
Replacement = cup of tea with another drink and read for a little.
You can also take it one step further and have your partner turn off the tv until you’ve gone to bed and you can have your book ready. This is setting up your environment for success.
Step 6 – POA potential sabotage
Come up with a potential sabotage POA!
Think forward to your days, weeks and months and brainstorm anything that may stop you from sticking to the new habit or habits.
A new habit on average (because we are all different) takes 66 days for it to feel natural. So if you can write down that far in advance what might hinder you from sticking to your new habit, and make a POA around these, then you’ll be flying! Your new habit will feel yours before you know it.
I’ll stick to the same example as I have been using around feeling energised. One potential hindrance could be that your series automatically starts a new episode and by the time you’ve got up to get your hot drink and book you’re already half watching or listening to the next series!!!! Sooo been there especially after the last one ended on a cliff hanger haha!
To help yourself around this situation, you could set you tv to turn itself off after the time it takes to watch 2 series. Or you could literally just have the remote next to you and practice self discipline and turn it off the second the 2nd episode has ended so you don’t get a sneak into the next one.
Step 7 – Take action
The most important step is to take action and actually DO the thing/s that you have just planned! Consistency and repetition are crucial to building a new habit. Keep connecting and reading – because you have written it down right 😉! – to your feeling and your why every time you feel like you want to stop or give in.
Stick to that 1 or max 3 habits for around 66 days. Then choose another habit from your brainstorm. and repeat.
If you did this you would have – at least – 6 new habits a year that serve you and make your life better! I know we all want everything yesterday but really, slowly is best. You will actually enjoy the process and you will actually stick to it instead of starting again every January!
Let me know how you find this and let me know how you get on! 😊
If you’d like help building healthy habits into your life – reach out to me, I would love to help you.