By Kristen Link
When was the last time you picked up a new habit? Habits are a part of our everyday lives so much so that at times we hardly recognize when we have formed a new one. Brushing our teeth, washing our hands or reaching for our morning coffee are healthy habits that are so ingrained into our daily lives that we would feel out of sorts if we skipped them!
Incorporating new, healthy habits, however, is often met with some resistance as we try to alter our normal routine. Whether you want to eat more leafy greens, reduce your stress or move your body more often, there are a few strategies to help you be successful.
When you set out to develop a new healthy habit, often you are doing so to reach a certain goal. It is important to make your goals S.M.A.R.T which is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound. S.M.A.R.T goals highlight certain effective criteria to ensure you are able to stay focused and committed to achieving your goals.
Choose an end goal that is clearly defined and is significant to what you are looking to achieve.
Make sure your goal has measurable outcomes that are both long-term and short-term to help keep you motivated along your journey.
While your goals should be challenging, it is not helpful for goals to be so difficult that you can never reach them.
Ensure that your goal is relevant to the change you want to make in your life and is most likely to have an impact.
Adding a deadline to when you want to achieve your goal by will help create a healthy amount of tension in order to make you want to succeed.
If you’ve tried to implement healthy habits before, think about areas where you struggled or faced certain challenges. Don’t be ashamed of any failures as well! These struggles can help inform you on how to more effectively form a new habit.
Reflect on these experiences and see if you can detect any patterns or behavior that could have deterred your past attempts. Brainstorm new ways to approach these behaviors so that you can avoid any pitfalls in the future.
Although you should ultimately hold yourself accountable to your new goal and habit, some outside help can also be motivating. Friends with similar goals can be good accountability partners who can motivate you when you are feeling unmotivated. Another option could be working with a certified health coach who can be your ally in your quest for wellness.
While your long-term goals may still be far away, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate your smaller victories to stay motivated. Remind yourself that over time, small changes add up to big change and eventually can help you form new habits.
As you may already know, health is more than just the food you eat. It is also the thoughts you ingest and the way you move your body in meaningful ways. Similarly, research has shown that you are more likely to stick with a new habit when you consider the impacts it has on your mind, body and spirit. For instance, if your goal is to slim down, consider the impact that stress has on your eating habits; by developing a daily yoga habit, you can reduce your stress level which helps support your weight loss goal.
Most importantly, while developing a new healthy habit it is wise to be graceful with yourself. Expecting perfection at all times will more likely result in resentment towards your new healthy habit or even failure. Instead, enjoy the journey and continually remind yourself of all the positive progress you have already made.
Kristen Link is a Certified Integrative Health Coach who helps individuals develop a deeper understanding of their personalized food and lifestyle choices to live a more sustainable, healthier, balanced, and fulfilling life. Learn more at http://wellnessbykristen.com/
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Stay Ever Well,
Lynne + Renee