For most of us, Autumn is about getting back to work after the Summer break, getting kids back to school and getting back into routine. It can feel like the start of a new year and therefore a time to instil new habits or set new goals. So often though, despite our best intentions, we struggle to maintain newly formed habits and our goal aspirations go unmet. So, how can we make these habits or goals stick? Here are my top 5 tips for creating and sticking with a new habit or goal so it translates into a lasting lifestyle change.
1. Make one micro-change at a time
Rome really wasn’t built in a day, neither are new habits. It takes small, consistent actions to solidify a habit, so start with the tiniest of changes and focus on one at a time until you’ve mastered it before moving on. Committing to one small action is much more achievable and sustainable, so that over time, you’ll have made an impactful difference.
For example, if your ultimate goal is to drink 8 glasses of water daily, start by increasing your current water intake by just 1 glass. Once you’re doing this consistently, add in another glass and so forth. Eventually you’ll be drinking those 8 glasses without much effort at all.
2. Determine your why
One of the reasons we don’t achieve our goals is because we seldom define why reaching those goals are so important to us in the first place.
For example, if your goal is to drink more water – ask yourself why you want to develop this new habit. Perhaps you want to be healthier. Fine, but why? You want to live a long life. Ok. Why? You want to be around to see your grandchildren grow up. Ah, so now we’ve established why that habit is important to you and you can bring this to mind when you start to falter.
3. Determine your why not
Conversely to our why, we rarely plan for why we’re not practicing habits or reaching our goals. Developing strategies to overcome situations that may hinder our progress can help us succeed.
For example, consider situations that may prevent you from reaching your daily water intake goal – commuting, not enjoying the taste of water, concerned about needing the loo all day? Strategies to overcome this may include; carrying a stainless-steel bottle of water with you at all times, flavouring your water with mint, lime or berries, taking regular sips all day instead of downing large glasses at a time.
4. Get accountable
Telling someone about the changes you’re trying to make and why or writing this down and keeping it in a visible place can help to keep you on track and motivated.
For example, ask a friend to check in with you once a week on your progress or keep a journal and mark off each time you’ve actioned a new habit or reached a goal.
5. Tag it to an ‘auto-pilot’ action
There are certain activities we do automatically and without much decision-making, like brushing our teeth. To instil a new habit, try to tag it onto one of these activities so it becomes second nature.
For example, drink that extra glass of water before you brush your teeth each day.