It's officially the new year leaving many of us grappling with new alarms, routines and habits to make this blank slate fresh and evolving. Whether you're looking to kick an old habit back into the last decade or embrace something new, here are 7 steps to build better habits in 2020.
1. Become aware of what your current habits are.
You can either track yourself for a week and analyze the results or a faster method is to take some time to sit and mentally run through your day-to-day. Notice what you do first thing in the morning - grab your phone, make a coffee, hit the snooze, etc. up until you go to bed at night.
Note: This isn't about judging the habits you already have as good or bad, it's just becoming aware.
2. Decide which habits to kill and which to keep.
Now that you know exactly how a typical day or week plays out for you, look at your list of habits/routines and ask yourself whether it's helping you get closer or further from your goals. For instance, if you notice that you tend to hit the snooze button but know that you want to get your workouts done in the morning, you may decide get rid of your snoozing habit in order to get closer to your fitness goals.
Or let's say you notice yourself spending a lot of money buying lunch everyday - you may instead choose to adopt a new meal prepping habit every Sunday to make sure you have a lunch packed for the week.
3. Make a clear plan of action.
Now that you know what you want to do it's time to decide exactly how you're going to do it. Will you deactivate the snooze option on your phone? Will Sunday officially become your big grocery and food prep day? If you're looking too adopt a new fitness routine, what days will you workout? Where? What time? What will you do?
Once you know what habits will lead you to greater satisfaction in life, coordinating a lifestyle that will maintain those habits is half the fun!
4. Connect it to a bigger "why".
Why exactly do you want to get up earlier in the morning? Why do you want to stop spending money on lunches? What's making you want to hit the gym more this year?
Of course there are simple, logical answers like "to have more time", "to save more money" or "to get in shape"... but why?
The deeper you can root your why, the chances of your follow through significantly increase. The minute we feel even the smallest sense of resistance, it's way too easy to give up and give in -- I mean, what's $7 dollars on a sub in the grand scheme of things? Plus, an 15 extra minutes in the morning isn't the worst idea right? I'm tired fam.
We can just as easily find reasons not to do something as we can to do them. So unless the habits you're trying to change hit something deep within you, odds are they won't stick around very long. Once you have that deeper why, write it down so you have it ready the minute you start to falter.
I'm waking up earlier in the morning so that I have more time to stretch and take a brisk walk which will get me more active, more in tune with my body and boost my mood and mindset heading into the day. This is important to me because I know when I don't spend some time outside or with my body it affects my mental health.
I'm going to meal prep my lunches so that I can save money for the downpayment on a house I would like to buy by year ----.
You get the drill.
5. What does success look and feel like?
Picture it, feel it, write it down and ask yourself this question any time you think of bailing on your plans. If you can make the picture crystal clear, if you can practically feel the gratitude and joy in your bones of a happy habit fulfilled or a toxic habit kicked, the Universe will respond promptly.
Picture how much energy you'll have eating healthy and making movement a priority. Feel the weight of hard cash in your hands after 6 months of committed saving. Think of how flexible you'll be after weeks of waking up early to get to your morning stretches.
I suggest writing it down so you can read it anytime the devil comes knocking.
6. Clear your path
Okay so you have your habits ready to come or go, you've got your plan on exactly how to make it happen, now you need to make it as easy as possible for your mind to hook and sink deep into them. How?
By making habits you want to keep more attractive and habits you want to get rid of unattractive.
If you want to go to the gym, you have to make that habit attractive -- get super cute running shoes, wear your hair a badass way, listen to a playlist of all your favourite songs, keep track of your progress, surround yourself with healthyfitspo via Pinterest or accounts online.
If you want to stop hitting the snooze button, look up the side effects of hitting that bad boy and trust me, you will suddenly realize how much you're messing up your internal clock and the entire idea will have you toggling off the option in seconds.
Change your environment, both mentally and physically to support your new lifestyle change. Make your good habits easy and no-brainers and your bad habits harder to find or follow through (put your gym gear out the night before, place your alarm on the other side of the room, pack your lunch so you're not tempted to walk into the sandwich shop come break time)
Listen, don't take this personally I'm not calling you lazy, I'm calling human beings lazy... or at least our brains. Our brains naturally seek out the easiest, least resistive path to whatever our needs are in the moment. Your need to eat lunch when you're hungry will override your need to buy a house in three years and therefore buying another sub will suddenly make more sense than saving your money, so plan ahead!
7. Just make it through the first week.
This is personal advice that I swear works every time. If I cave on my plans to start or kick any habits in the first week, I'm bound to break them over and over again because in a weird, full circle way I will have then created a habit out of giving up on that habit. When you commit, commit to giving it 100% for at least the first week and then re-evaluate on whether or not it's working for you.
The first week is always the most uncomfortable, but the second you taste sweet victory of 7 days behind you complete, it will suddenly feel so much easy to go for round 2. By round 3 you'll be laughing that you ever thought a habit to be so difficult as it slowly becomes your new nature.
You don't have to grip tight or go guns blazing the whole way through, but if you can make it through that first week the rest is cake.