We often know very well what can make a positive difference to our well-being. We’ve read or heard about the actions that can create positive change. And yet we can’t act! We fail when it comes to implementing them. If you’re dreaming of creating new habits, this article offers five ways to get started.
Have you ever realized that when you must deal with a problem that has an immediate impact, such as relieving a migraine, soothing a backache, or filling the empty fridge, you don’t hesitate for a second? But if you’ve forgotten to take your vitamins, do your stretching exercises or the fridge is empty of fruit and vegetables, you’re much slower to remedy the situation? And yes, it’s a challenge to put in place healthy habits to gradually increase your level of well-being. Your brain has a short-term vision: acting to prevent is much more difficult than acting to cure!
Fortunately, there are ways to remedy the situation.
Tip #1: Don’t make a method a personal problem.
When you can’t get into a new habit, your first reflex is probably self-criticism! You tell yourself: “Oh, I’m not disciplined enough. I don’t have what it takes. I don’t have the willpower. I’ll never make it”. With that kind of talk, it’s easy to give up!
Let’s face it, if you fail, it’s not your personality that’s the problem, it’s your method! Blaming yourself is counter-productive and demotivating. You can’t improvise change, you have to prepare for it. Instead, focus on finding solutions, learning from them, and starting afresh.
You can define a clear objective, draw up an action plan, consider the obstacles and possible alternatives for getting around them. You can ask yourself what support you need and think about celebrating each step of your transformation. You’ll get there by applying the tools that suit you best and choosing the right method.
Track #2: Focus on consistency
Are you one of those people who do something here and something there? For example, eat healthy for a day or two, go to bed earlier once in a while, or work out hard for 15 days and then do nothing? If so, unfortunately the lack of consistency is preventing you from implementing a change. Your brain needs rituals. It loves habits!
Do you ask yourself every morning if you’re going to brush your teeth? I guess not! It’s part of your ritual. It’s normal, natural, habitual. It doesn’t require any mental energy or procrastination: you just do it!
And therein lies one of the keys to change! Instead of doing three long fifty-minute meditations every week, try a short ten-minute meditation every morning. And on days when you don’t have ten minutes, three minutes is enough to maintain the ritual. You can also try associating this change with a specific time, place or event that will remind you that it’s for now: when you wake up in the morning, when you turn on your computer, when you leave your office, after dinner, before bedtime.
Tip #3: Don’t go it alone!
In today’s society, many people think that to succeed, they have to do it alone. They see asking for support as a weakness.
And yet, it’s been shown that it’s difficult to create change on your own, because your brain has been formatted to connect. For millennia, your ancestors have always been part of a community, a tribe, a group. They worked together to get ahead. In fact, community support was still very strong less than a hundred years ago! If you’re looking to implement new habits, you’ll need a support system.
To increase your chances of success, you can choose to be part of a group with the same goals as you, or to be accompanied by a friend, mentor or coach who regularly asks you where you stand and provides you with benevolent support.
Track #4: Take action!
When it comes to taking care of ourselves, we’re often good at talking about it, reading about it, dreaming about it, making plans, sometimes even giving advice… but when it comes to acting, it’s a different story!
It’s not enough to know, discuss and read about the tools that can help you create change. Above all, you must put them into practice and try them out. Find out which ones suit you best, which ones work best for you. This will enable you to adapt them, change them if necessary, and above all… move forward!
To act, try to find an environment or support where you can discover, learn and test these tools: for example, by intentionally setting aside time for practice, or by taking part in a program or series of workshops focused on action.
Track #5: Celebrate!
Your brain loves encouragement. It needs it to stay motivated and move forward. With its short-term vision, it’s fond of regular positive feedback.
Get into the habit of valuing every small step you take towards your goals, congratulating yourself on it and celebrating your progress with small rewards: a coffee with a friend, a massage, a break, a walk in the woods. And it’s even better if you have someone to remind you, to encourage you, to celebrate with you every little step towards change!
Choose and adapt your method, focus on consistency, organize yourself so you have good support, make sure you act and celebrate: these five tips make it easier to create new habits.