We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an action but a habit.
You’ve probably heard it all before, “if only I ate better”, “I should train more”, “I’ll start tomorrow” or “I’ll start next week”. Believe it or not these forms of blame and procrastination come down to simple daily habits created from what YOU prioritise as important or not. This is why our first step to ‘Smashing bad habits!’ starts with setting a goal.
STEP ONE – GOAL SETTING (‘ink it don’t just think it’)
Write a goal! Any goal! Big or Small! Seemingly impossible or easily doable! You won’t know which way to go if you don’t know where you are going, so start with a goal and break it down from there! Just remember your best option is to write several small goals that you can achieve while working toward your final goal. For example, one of my clients is trying to lose 15kg in 15 weeks therefore we have set weekly goals to achieve with the purpose of helping her achieve her final goal. Regardless of whether or not it is achievable it is an awesome goal which we both decided upon together and now she has a general direction. Having a destination will then help us to apply ground rules and actually have a reason to create new habits bringing us to our next step removing one thing a week.
STEP TWO – REMOVING ONE THING A WEEK (‘be the best, start with less’)
Going ‘cold turkey’ is a skill in itself and is not always the best way to approach habitual change. There are many reasons for this, a few being
- It doesn’t always last as most people succumb to old habits/ urges within a couple of days;
- The withdrawals can effect peoples behaviours causing them to be more negative;
- Some people even replace the bad habit with another bad habit. This often leads to people trying to justify the new bad habit because they are no longer engaging in the previous bad habit.
Instead a great way to change your old habit is by removing something small that will in no way benefit your goal. For example, (from a nutrition perspective) if you’re trying to lose weight/ body fat you may decrease the portion size of one meal a day. Changing one thing at a time will obviously be hard but it can be easily addressed. Thus you may decide that you won’t eat any chocolate for the week, the next week you may decide that you won’t eat out and the week after that you might remove fizzy drinks. After a period of weeks you would have removed several unhealthy habits that would have started to affect your weight, your shape and even your muscle recovery rate. Although taking things out is only one part as you still need to eat which brings us to Step Three choosing alternatives!
STEP THREE – CHOOSING ALTERNATIVES (‘set the date to alternate’)
Time to “replace the waste”. The waste of ‘time’ that is. How many of you eat if you get bored? How many of you walk when you should be running? How many of you procrastinate when there are things to do? Honestly I would say most people said “I do” to at least one of these things so here’s how we smash the bad habits using step three. Pick the alternative. When I say it is time to replace the waste I am referring to the time you waste while trying to achieve your goal. If you are not choosing the right things that will help you get closer to your goal then you are literally wasting your time. For example if you are trying to lose weight and you eat chocolate every day this will definitely not help you to get any closer to your goal. However, trying to remove chocolate altogether at the beginning may also be too hard for some people therefore I suggest you try an alternative option to change your bad habit. For example simply swapping chocolate to a piece of fruit will already have less sugar and help you create a new and improved habit. Try to think of the things you would call bad habits and those that you know don’t benefit your goal in any way. If they are too hard to remove altogether they will certainly have a better alternative and will help you to get into a routine that will soon help you to remove the bad habit altogether.
STEP FOUR – GET FRIENDS OR FAMILY ON BOARD (YOU CAN DEPEND ON YOUR FRIEND)
When other people are aware of what you’re trying to achieve whenever you see them or hear from them it will most likely be a topic of conversation at some point. This is awesome for you as you will be constantly reminded of what you’re trying to achieve and your friends or family will help both directly and indirectly just by reminding you. You will also be held more accountable for your actions especially if they are diet related and you get caught out by a friend or family. The guilt will most likely act as an incentive to urge you to change your ways. Another idea with a friend or family member is to have the same goals so you both are working and suffering together, going through the pain with someone else is much better than going it alone.
STEP FIVE – CREATE A NEW ROUTINE (NEW HABITS EACH DAY KEEP THE URGES AT BAY)
This is where you begin to change your life by making your good habits a daily action. You need to pick 3 things you can repeat every day that will start to benefit your plan that aims you toward your goal. If your goal is weight loss and you don’t already train your first habit could be to go to the gym every day, it doesn’t have to be for a long time just going in every day to make it a habit can help you to create a healthier lifestyle and make you more active. The other people in the gym training will encourage you to train, being in there more often you will have the chance to get to know people who work or train there and they can come on board with your goals before you know it you will have a whole new support base which all started with you just turning up. The things you do every day will become habits over time so make sure they are things that will steer you towards your goal. The new habits you choose to do must come back to why you’re doing them as this will be your motivation, your passion, your reason and it will help you on the days that seem too hard or tiring when you lack motivation.
To conclude and recap you need to:
- WRITE A GOAL;
- REMOVE A BAD HABIT;
- PICK AN ALTERNATIVE TO BAD A CHOICE;
- TO TELL YOUR FRIENDS OR FAMILY;
- CREATE NEW ROUTINES.
Remember there will be a lot of times where you get stuck or you struggle to hold the new changes in place these moments will come back to priority which is always determined by you goals, your reason why. You have to have a goal that is important to you or the other steps will be too difficult to complete and you won’t prioritise your new habits as being more important than your old habits. Start small and be repetitive, over time the hard work pays off. The more hard work you do the more results you will see, the more luck you will come with your routine and habits.