Are you ready to take charge of your health? Our seven simple tips help you create a healthy habit and stick with it! Seems like every day someone asks,
“How can I make change (exercise more, eat healthier, manage my energy, reduce stress, etc.) and stick with it?”
As an Integrative Health Coach, I support people as they take control of their health. At some point most every client comments with a tone of desperation,
Can’t you just tell me what to do?!?
We’ve all been there.
Please just tell me what to do and how to do it. Better yet, do it for me.
Truth is, I cannot. I am not the expert of their lives, they are! It’s hard to believe but through years of working with clients, it’s proven time and again, they have the answers and simply need support in finding their way. It feels frustrating at first yet when someone realizes they have the ability to create a healthy habit, to achieve their health and happiness, it’s super empowering!
First Things First
It would be incredibly remiss of me to not acknowledge the importance of the “pre-work”. To make change that becomes a new habit, a strong foundation is key. It’s not required but there is a greater chance of long term success if you consider, How would you like your health to be? What is it like now? What is the importance of this change? Is this the right time? What are your strengths? What is gonna make this challenging? Are there other changes required first? Knowing the answers to these questions, keeps you on course when you hit bumps on the road to success. Check out two resources to get you started ~ 5 Days To Health + Happiness, and The Health + Happiness Inventory.
Tips To Create A Healthy Habit
As mentioned above, I don’t have the answers for your success. Instead, I am sharing real experiences that provided me with ah ha moments. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit the ah ha-ness of these moments. Seems so obvious. Theories on change make it sound simple but when it comes to creating change, there is nothing simple about it. It’s work! All of the experiences below, they are simple. The outcome, powerful!
Our ability to create a new habit can be influenced by the vicarious experience of watching or hearing about other’s successes. It’s one of the reasons group coaching is incredibly beneficial. When we know that someone else experienced the change we hope for, we feel it’s possible. This benefit becomes even stronger when the person we observe is similar to us. Hopefully my experiences inspire you to create new and healthy habits. Please share your stories of change, challenge and success in the comments below.
1. Find Enjoyment In Your New Habit
This one is rather obvious. The more you enjoy something, the more likely you are to stick with it. If you discover your new habit is not ranking very high on the enjoy-o-meter, then get creative. What can you do to find enjoyment?
Enjoyment In Walking
Most of my life, I have been a very motivated exerciser, loving to get outside and feel my feet hit the pavement. Lately, I lack motivation to get out the door. I do it but it’s typically at the end of the day because I should and 10,000 steps are needed to feel a sense of success. I am not motivated, instead, getting it done. Exercise is no longer enjoyable. It is time to find the joy.
- Friends – Do you exercise with a buddy? I’ve always been a lone exerciser. It’s my time to re-group, de-stress, solve the world’s problems, etc. A friend invited me to walk one morning a week. I hesitated, thinking … I exercise alone. Lucky me for new friends. With changes in my life, I enjoy new things! I’ve since asked another friend to walk. I have two walking buddies and huge enjoyment in my exercise.
- Audiobooks – Exercise + Learning = Motivation. This is a game changer! I can’t get out the door fast enough to get back to my book. Fiction, non-fiction, podcasts … take your pick. 10,000 steps is easy! Happy, happy. Joy, joy.
2. Know The Value Of Your New Habit
This is really quite simple. If there is value in the habit, you are more likely to create and stick with it. If there is no importance, if there is no good answer to “What’s in it for me?” then most likely, you are not gonna stick with it.
Saturday Pilates for Parkinson’s Class
For three years, every Monday and Wednesday, I have been teaching a Pilates class for people with Parkinson’s and their care-partners at ADF’s Scripps Studios in Durham NC. Usually we take a break during the Summer but in 2019, we offered a 6~week, Saturday morning session. Never have I taught a Saturday class. How in the world was I going to get into the new habit? It was on my calendar. There was a sticky-note reminder on my computer.
What happened? Well, I rarely check my calendar or use my computer on Saturday’s. Never saw the reminders and never missed (or even ran late) for a Saturday class. Why? It is one of the most valuable things I do. I love all my classes but this one, our class is an amazingly supportive and kind community. We usually have about 20 participants and 3 volunteers. It was the easiest change ever made.
Take a moment and think about something in your life that you thought would be challenging but were surprised to find it almost easy to accomplish. On a scale of 1-10 (1-low and 10-high), how important was it to you? I’d be willing to bet it was at least a 7 on the Importance Scale. If it’s important to you, it’s easier to get it done!
3. Understand The Cost Of Not Creating The Habit
Yes, this is similar to “Knowing The Value” but sometimes the cost of not doing something is more motivating than the value of doing it. Again, the habit may sound simple but following through, that’s the challenge.
The Cost Of Forgetting To Squeegy
We have a new shower. Not that we wanted one but soon after moving in, the existing shower leaked into the light fixture below and on to the kitchen table. The new shower is quite nice. It’s a good size, gray and white tile, river rock floor, big sliding glass doors. We quickly learned that water pools on the ledge where the door rests and clings to the glass doors. This creates a slimy, spotty mess. After a bit of research, the most effective, environmentally-friendly solution is simply wiping the water away with a rubber shower squeegy.
We purchased a squeegy and it found its home in the shower. For most of us, showering is a habit we do without thought. If you shower in the morning, you may not even be awake. How would we remember to do it? Guess what! Every single time! Yes, every single time I shower, I squeegy the ledge and doors. Amazing! Several times after stepping out of the shower, I realized I forgot. My thought, I’ll get it next time. But I couldn’t let it go. Back into the shower and away with the water spots and sitting water.
This was a big ah ha moment for me. The realization occurred after the fact. The cost of not squeegying and returning to a slimmy ledge and icky doors was an incredibly powerful motivator. A habit was quickly created and it’s sticking (the habit, not the water)!
4. Explore What’s Hindering Your New Habit
Oh, wow! This can be a huge time suck and source of frustration. Have you ever attempted again and again to create a new habit or to simply strike through an item on your To Do List and had absolutely no luck? Here’s a helpful tip ~ Take a moment. Step back. Explore what’s getting in your way!
What’s In The Way Of My Writing?
Since moving into our house, my writing has struggled. It would be wonderful to post on the Health + Happiness Blog two times per month. Ha! Currently, there are nine posts in draft and months since any posts. I know the value! The cost of not writing is clear. I enjoy writing. What is getting in my way?!?! The pictures below are worth 1000 words. I’ve struggled to create my space for writing. We’ve hit a few snafus since moving into our home and as soon as I think my office is in order, another issue arises. Well, finally the water-damaged, mildewy floor, windows and shelving is out office. Obstacles out of the way! Here I am finding my way back to writing.
5. Allow The “New Habit Goodness” To Flow
It may sound crazy, but it’s true. The goodness and benefit of a new habit can flow into other areas of your life and suddenly other daunting habits seem a bit more attainable.
From The Kitchen Sink to The Coffee Table
The kitchen sink and counters are a constant source of irritation in my house. Why is there always something there?!? Seriously. Last year, I created the goal of never leaving the house with dishes in the sink or things (dishes, mail, random stuff) on the counters. This took a little time but quickly I realized the joy it brought me, the value in doing it and understood the cost when I didn’t do it. Honestly, it is a rather simple task. It takes only a few minutes.
What happened next was the best part. I began to feel that way about other areas. The bathroom counters, the kitchen table, the coffee table. The “new habit goodness” began to spill over into other areas of my home. Viola! Multiple new habits developed because of my commitment to create a single healthy habit.
6. Pay Attention And Shift As Appropriate
Paying attention to you, your actions and the outcomes is huge. Every action has an outcome or a response. It is super valuable to pay attention. What if the action you take, creates an unexpected change or shifts the original reason for wanting to change your behavior?
Getting Lost In Your Actions
A client was determined to begin exercising. She had not walked regularly in years. She decided she would walk five days each week for at least 45 minutes. We discussed if that would be better as her long term goal. Nope! She was set on these actions and knew she would feel like a failure to do less. The first week she succeeded with her set actions. Her back hurt. Her knees were swollen. She developed shin splints and did nothing the following week. Paying attention and shifting her actions as she began to feel discomfort may have prevented injury and allowed her to move and enjoy at least partial success each week. Paying attention and learning from your actions is huge!
7. Be Kind To Yourself
I’ve said it several times, behavior change is not easy. Routines are not simply part of your day, they are part of your brain. To create a healthy habit and make it stronger than the old one is a journey. It takes practice, paying attention, learning, tweaking, celebrating, falling short, tweaking again, etc. Often times, even when we have partial success, that nasty inner critic speaks loudly and creates additional road blocks. For some, it’s easy to allow the inner critic to demean your self-worth and sabotage progress.
Soften The Inner Critic With Loving Kindness Meditation
When you notice you are beating yourself up, stop the chaos and remember to be kind to yourself. If you are at all interested, I encourage everyone to explore Loving Kindness Meditation. It’s made a huge difference in my ability to be kind to myself and the world. Create distance from the inner critic and shine a light on successes. It’s a great motivation to stick with a new healthy habit.
Summing It Up
Most importantly, making behavior change is a challenge for most people. For those that can simply decide to create a healthy habit (i.e. quit smoking, start exercising, lose weight) and find immediate success, more power to you! Most of us are not that way. Yes, repetition can create change but incorporating a few of the tips above makes the road to success a little less of an uphill battle.
Our seven tips to create a healthy habit:
- Find Enjoyment In Your New Habit
- Know The Value Of Your New Habit
- Understand The Cost Of Not Creating The Habit
- Explore What’s Hindering Your New Habit
- Allow The “New Habit Goodness” To Flow
- Pay Attention And Shift As Appropriate
- Be Kind To Yourself
Of course, there are many other tips and tricks to ease the road to success. What’s worked for you? How did you create a healthy habit and stick with it? There is so much to learn from the experiences of others. Share below and help someone on their road to success.
Interested in scheduling a Discovery Call. Supporting individuals and groups through behavior change is what I do. Schedule a 30 minute Discovery Call and let’s explore if working together makes sense.
4 thoughts on “How To Create A Healthy Habit And Stick With It”
The seven tips are valuable tools for success in developing healthy habits. Very useful advice!
I wish we could sit together and talk about all the great ways to be successful in developing healthy habits. It’s been far too long. I hope you are doing great I miss you.
In health + happiness and lots of love!
Great useful information, Meg!
I like your writing voice so much–I can almost hear you talking. I especially like the idea of thinking about what’s getting in the way of practicing a healthy habit. Also how Loving Kindness quiets the ‘beat yourself up’ voice.
Many thanks, and love and Health + Happiness to you!
Makes me happy that you like my writing voice. You are correct. It’s is pretty much my talking voice. What you hear is what you get! ? Someone told me that these seem more like “tricks” than “tips”. Funny that paying attention to our actions, reactions and obstacles feels like a trick. Simple is mighty powerful.
Thank you for your comments!
L+H+H to you+K+B!