Change your habits, change your life… How do we create new habits?

Thank you for clicking on this article as its title is everything but original. But, that does not make it less true. Actually, it is a huge deal!

Our life is truly a reflection of our habits at every level of our existence. We become what we think about because what we think about is what we will focus on and that will influence what action we take, which, ultimately, leads to a particular outcome (or outcomes for different areas of our life). Results, in one word.

Einstein’s famous definition of insanity is repeating the same actions over and over again and expecting different result. And, yet, that is exactly what majority of us do. We have around 60 000 thoughts every single day, take or add a few, and research suggests that 98% of those thoughts are exactly the same thoughts we have every single day. So, anyone wanting to change their life – what we need to change are habits and behaviours, which will influence our actions and the end result – our life.

Sounds simple, but we all know it is easier said that done. But at least we know that we got to change something. Because…

Change nothing – nothing changes.
Change a little – little changes.
Change a lot – a lot changes.

Habits come to mind as a logical one thing that we need to focus on changing. When it comes to health – habits are absolutely everything.

It is being said that it takes 21 days to change habits. But, science shows that this is a myth. Psychologists may agree that while it perhaps takes 21 days of consistent and conscientious effort to create a new habit, it takes far longer to break an existing habit. More recently, study of 96 people was published in The European Journal of Social Philosophy and it states that it took an average 66 days to form a habit, such as eating a healthy snack or exercising regularly. That is to reach the point of Automaticity. When we develop a new behaviour that we do automatically, like brushing teeth is. The point of unconscious competence.

They found that creating a new habit depends on type of behaviour we are trying to change, the person and the circumstances. It can also take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit, which is an average of 66 days, but this highlights why it takes longer for some to adopt new habits.

I always talk to my client that after weight loss comes maintenance and research shows that maintenance is actually harder. Why? Because they have not yet reached the state of automaticity. They lost weight with my support, but those that take it for granted and have not fully committed to living a healthy, active lifestyle for life are the ones that will struggle to keep the weight off.

So, how do we create new habits?

Well, we need to want it first. And with that comes having a courage to take personal responsibility and admit that it is us that needs to change. Not the world around us. Only by changing ourselves – we have the power to influence the world around us.

I love Brendon Burchard’s “Six Habits of Top Performers”. It is based on an extensive research and, when it comes to health – first three habits can be implemented for greater health and energy and I thought of adapting them to this area of life that certainly my clients could benefit from.

1. Seek Clarity!

When you have clarity of what lifestyle, energy, health you want to have in your life – this will give you the clarity in what direction you need to go. This will influence health decisions you need to make and, ultimately – your state of health. You need to know what state of being and wellness you want to end up with and let this vision drive you.

The questions to ask yourself is

“What habits the person I want to become has?”,
“How different are those to my current habits?”,
“What do I need to change?”

An example would be: “If I want to lose weight and improve my health – I need to exercise more, reduce sugar in my diet, perhaps learn how to balance my diet better, drink more water, etc. Currently, I skip breakfast, I do not exercise much, I am hungry and not sure what I am doing wrong, etc. Perhaps I need to learn more about balanced eating so I can cook more and choose better when eating out, find a local exercise class that I will enjoy, drink 8 lasses of water instead of only 4, reduce alcohol and coffee, etc.”

Next step would be to be aware of your health intentions for yourself when interacting with others. Those who are less successful in changing their habits are those that go on an automated pilot and allow people that they surround themselves with to dictate what goes on their plate, how much they drink if they went out, etc. Those that are successful will always have their end goal at the forefront of their mind and will meet people with an intention not to be swayed, but to enjoy the company whilst still staying true to decisions they need to make to stay on track. They will make this decision before going out and meeting people. Sometimes, they may even take a “rain cheque” to an invitation to go out for a drink. Because, at that moment, staying on course matters more.

Third step in seeking clarity is developing skills and knowledge that will enable you to know exactly what you need to do in order to achieve your wellness goals. This is “back to school” time. Many attempt to do it alone especially as Internet has so much information. You can pick a different diet every week and give it a go. The research, however,  shows those that seek a help of a support group or a coach or nutritionist or personal trainer have three times more success rate. Because they are learning through doing from someone who already “talks the talk and walks the walk” – there is less room for learning errors as you are learning from an expert in their field and there is accountability involved.

Forth step in seeking clarity is giving back to others. Meaning – do not just make this about yourself. This element really struck a cord with me as what I found through running groups for nine years now – those that participate more, celebrate other people’s results, share challenges and successes that others can relate to or learn from – they are bar far more successful from those who are in it just for themselves. We are tribal beings and the more involved we are – the more we feel part of the tribe, the more we feel the sense of belonging. And this almost drives the feeling of wanting to continue to do well so we can continue to inspire. It, actually, is a wonderful feeling. I live with it every day. But I also recognise those very special participants in each group that are willing to go an extra mile to also take a role of support to help others.

2. Generate Energy!

Whilst top performers are generally in great shape as they eat right and exercise –  after being clear on what needs to do to reach their wellness goals – actually doing it, putting their health knowledge and advice of their coach into practice – is paramount. It is not just about eating well and exercising, but also reducing stress, keeping a positive outlook at life, focusing on the good rather than negative, they are responsible for the energy they bring into the room, because this all helps create not only great physical, but also great mental energy.

Neuroscientists believe that anticipating a positive event releases as much dopamine, hormone associated with pleasure and happiness, as experiencing the event. So, for all of us wanting to be healthy and stay healthy, taking a moment to start your day with visualising yourself going through the day with vibrant energy, on track of our goals, with ease, determination and excitement is an important part of setting yourself for success that day. And more likely you WILL go through those motions.

If you are not excited about the health and body you are building – how can you expect to go through the motions long enough to see the results? It is much easier to go through your new daily habits when you are positive and excited about it. You may do, but that may be a dreaded journey. If you ever attempted to be healthier and fitter, then find yourself thinking how it is hard, how you don’t think you can do it, almost looking for valid excuses to give up – that is an immediate red flag to re-examine your attitude, mindset and energy you are generating to make your goals a reality.

Is it hard? Of course it is. It is meant to be. It is about being excited about who you will become in the process.

Which takes us to the next habit:

3. Raise Necessity

Why some people succeed and others take a lot longer or they never reach their goals? They have the same or similar goal, they all certainly need to go though the same healthy habits every day, but what makes one succeed and other not?

It is found that top performers bring extra urgency to their daily actions. Usually it is in the form of an added obligation that is added to their desires. Underperformers typically rely on their own desire to succeed – desired outcome, but not a necessary one.

So, if you think of your health goals – the questions is what external obligation can you attach to it so that positive outcome will also benefit someone else in your life?

Ask yourself:

Why is it a necessity for me to succeed in being healthier and fitter and losing the weight?
Who needs me to be my best?
Who is counting on me?
Why is it a must?

This is not to raise an anxiety, but, to attach a meaning to find your true WHY. Why that makes you cry. Find someone or something to fight for. Maybe your partner who you hope will be inspired by you to do something about their own health that you are worried about, your son or daughter so that they have a good role model, someone you love who may not be with you any longer but you feel they would want you to be healthier, your parents who worry about you. Find someone. This will raise the stake at why is it important and a must you reach your goal.

Another habit is to share your goals and what you are trying to achieve with other people because of the outside expectations that are created. No one wants to fail publicly, so, the more people you tell – the more committed you will feel. For that, you need to demonstrate courage and step out of your comfort zone. Another thing I see many shy away from. Mainly because they are afraid of failure and shame attached. But, that is where courage comes in and having a step-by-step, fool-proof, support system in place that will allow you to achieve your goals if you follow them.

Another important part of the whole process is setting deadlines and understanding that Rome was not built-in a day, so, having patience and knowing that it will take time to build new habits. I see many giving up after few days or weeks when going gets tough. Well, giving up is never an option or a path to achieving our health goals and becoming better versions of ourselves. When going gets tough – tough get going. So, perhaps it is time to grow your mental strength muscle.

I am so grateful to people like Brendon Burchard and so many though leaders and experts who are able to bring insights into our lives that are total game changers for those who want to change.

I hope this article has been of a value.

And, if you need support in changing your health habits, please feel free to reach out and ask about my step-by-step process and support system that teaches you the fundamentals of a healthy, active lifestyle.

It is an honour to serve, always.

Yours in health,

Sanela

 

 

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