A Quick Tip for Forming Sustainable, Lasting, Healthy Habits

It’s nearing that time where many people may be starting to think about forming New Year’s resolutions.

Hopefully many of you are enjoying both a happy and healthy Christmas break. It’s likely though that for some, indulging over Christmas will mean that goals will be health related.

Year after year, countless targets are set, yet in reality few are seen through to the finish.

One of the main reasons people often struggle to keep their resolutions up for more than a couple of weeks is simply:

They aim a little too high, or bite off more than they can chew.

Yes it’s true, some may have the mindset that allows them to make massive dietary or lifestyle shifts as simply as flicking on a light. It definitely works for certain personalities.

But for the most part; this all or nothing approach doesn’t work too well for the average person…

Typically, the average person will keep up with the new trend for a few days or maybe even weeks if they’re feeling particularly motivated, but inevitably, soon enough they start to falter and drift back to their old ways.

They may miss a workout or two, or perhaps stray a few times from their new diet plan.

As soon as they recognise this, they beat themselves up, and declare that they can’t do it anymore. It’s too hard. They’ve tried to change, but couldn’t keep it up, so that’s it. Finished.

Rather than taking this all or nothing approach, one of the easiest ways to make a healthy habit stick is to start slow, and make the adjustment as simple as possible.

Take tiny, baby steps.

Set the bar as low as it can be so that it’s nearly impossible to fail, and ease into change gently.

For example, someone who’s new to exercise and looking to maybe start running may initially commit to going out on a three mile run, four times a week. This may seem like nothing to some people, but it’s a pretty big change for someone who may have been sedentary all their life.

Instead, it may be more beneficial to that person if they were to wind that goal back drastically, and start by simply getting up and running for a few minutes to the end of the road every morning. Or even just getting up and getting dressed for a run.

Commit to doing this small act, every day for a month.

Likewise with nutrition. Rather than jumping in to a complete dietary over-hall, maybe aim to start the day with a glass of water, or perhaps a green smoothie.

Meditate for one minute every morning.

Practice one song on the piano a day.

Write one sentence in your journal when you wake.

Whatever the goal is, the idea is to start really, really small. It sounds a bit silly, but for the majority of people it works.

And it works well, because we humans are creatures of habit.

Our habits can promote health, like regular meditation or exercise; or they can potentially be harmful, like eating hotdogs every day.

Doing something that is very easy every day for a prolonged period helps to establish the new habit you would like to form. It cements the idea in your head that “this is what I do now”, and creates a strong foundation that you can build upon.

You can start to add more small changes, but only when you feel comfortable to do so.

Over an extended time period, the small changes begin to add up, and before you know it you may have a completely set of new healthy habits.

Taking it slow also helps people to avoid the self criticism and self doubt that arise when failure occurs. If you make it almost impossible to fail, you greatly increase your chances of success, and staying away from negativity.

Not that failure is always a bad thing, it can be a useful tool to learn from; but again this depends on the individual.

For some people, the thought of even doing something really easy everyday for a prolonged period seems a bit out of reach.

But if you stop and think about it, there are plenty of things we do every day.

Eating dinner.

Checking emails.

Hopefully washing a little…

Just add in a new habit, or modify an existing one slightly.

So if you’re thinking about setting a goal this New Year or maybe have had problems making changes stick in the past, perhaps this time dial it down a little.

Becoming healthy is not a race. Everyone is on their own journey, each at different points and travelling at their own pace. There’s no pressure.

You’re not expected to go from coach potato to Rich Roll in a day, so take it easy, don’t be so hard on yourself, and make gradual changes. They all count.

This year, maybe try forming some sustainable habits, and take a big step towards achieving lasting wellness, rather than adding another set of failed attempts to the list.

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones is a mover, blogger and wellness enthusiast. He spends his time exploring and sharing ideas in mindful movement, healthy living and adventure.

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