Just because it’s not New Years’ Day, doesn’t mean that you can’t start a new habit now. So many of us seem to use New Years’ as an excuse to make a change to our lives – unsurprisingly, this is one of the most common time for big changes to take place in our lives.
What if I told you that there was a way to do it now, at the start of a random month, with New Years’ far off? Or, if you’re reading this on New Years’ Day then, firstly, congrats on the new year! How was the party last night?
Secondly, you can use these strategies at New Year, or at any time of the year, to build healthy habits. It really all boils down to a bit of a mindset switch-around. Before we get to that, let’s have a think about why you’re doing this.
Why build healthy habits
A healthy habit doesn’t have to relate to your health. It doesn’t have to be that you will commit to eating 5 portions of fruit and veg every day (though if that is your habit, fairplay to you). Instead, a healthy habit is any habit that benefits your life in some way.
It could be as simple as ‘I want to learn how to play the ukulele’ (Don’t worry, we’ve all had this thought), or ‘I want to maintain a 600-day streak on Duolingo’ (okay, that wasn’t quite so subtle, but you can find that blog post here nevertheless). It could be as beneficial as ‘I want to stop smoking’ or ‘I want to workout more often’.
Having unhealthy habits isn’t necessarily a bad thing – like playing video games or watching Netflix every day after work – as long as they don’t negatively impact your life. Chances are, though, you’ll find unhealthy habits a touch easier to build and maintain because they’re easy to do, or more enjoyable, or just easy, plain and simple.
We’re reading about building healthy habits today because so many people, myself included, really do struggle with adding them to our lives. Let’s make the whole process a lot simpler as we read about my key strategies.
How to build healthy habits
What I’m going to tell you isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it could be game-changing if you’ve never tried it. There are a few methods for building healthy habits – and James Clear has written extensively on making the habits that you want to build visible – but I reckon that this method is even simpler than that.
Essentially, building healthy habits is all about changing your mindset. You need to stop thinking that you want to take on all of these ambitious, difficult, goals, because the hardest part of building any habit is getting started. You might want to be a grade 8 piano player overnight, but that just won’t be possible, and you might feel really downtrodden about your lack of rapid progress.
Instead, change what you’re saying – to others and to yourself. Don’t tell people that you’re going to start learning to play piano, or go to the gym more often. Tell them that you are a person who plays piano. You are a person who goes to the gym three times a week. You are a person who spends ten minutes, every single day, on Duolingo to learn Spanish (just me?).
How this helps to build healthy habits
You might, quite justifiably, be asking the question, ‘what’s the point? How is this going to help me?’
I’m glad you asked.
Think about the healthy habits that you already have. Most of them you probably wouldn’t consider a habit, but you do them without thinking – and that’s as a result of this positive thinking. One habit is that, chances are, you already brush your teeth. You probably brush them for two minutes or more, and you probably brush them twice a day (or at least I hope you do). You do this without fail; you don’t go to bed before brushing because you are a person who brushes their teeth.
Now it’s time to apply that to your new habits. If you want to go to the gym after work, then you are now a person whose commitments don’t end when you leave the office. Instead of going home at 5pm, you will go to the gym – because you are a person who works out three days a week, from 5-6pm. Soon, you’ll start doing this in the same way you brush your teeth – without even thinking.
See how that helps? Now, go try it out and report back. Use each other in the comments section as your accountability buddies. Let’s start building some healthy habits today!
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