Happy new year readers! It’s been a busy but wonderful holiday period, and I’m now looking forward to some calm and quiet this January. For me, the start of the new year brings a lot of contemplation and drive to outline my goals and values for the year as well as starting to make the steps to accomplish them. New year’s resolutions have the unfortunate trait of failing after the first month; the classic joining a gym in January and striving to eat healthier, with February bringing an unused gym membership and re-gaining of lost holiday weight. Here are my favourite tips for making healthy habits stick:
- Forget Willpower
Willpower is finite resource, and using willpower alone to make healthy changes is exhausting and doomed to fail. Instead, focus on changing habits to the core. Start with a “gainful mindset” rather than a deprivation mindset, and make sure you have good reasons to change the goal, that matter more to you then short term, fleeting pleasure. Realize that you can train your brain to actually desire healthy food and exercise, etc. You must feel a *want* to change your lifestyle, not a *have to*.
- Small steps
Instead of making big goals like “I’m going to meditate for 30 minutes each day” or “I’ll work out three times a week”, form the habit by starting extra small so it’s EASY. For example you could start by making a meditation area in your bedroom, or downloading an app. The next step would be to meditate for 5 minutes once a week, then twice a week, and so on and so forth. For a goal to be more active, one could start by focusing on walking for 10 minutes after meals, or taking the steps more and then building up. It may take longer to reach the “final goal” but you’re more likely to actually reach the final goal and make it stick.
- Create the right environment for achieving goals
A large part of changing habits is changing the outside as much as the inside. For example it is much easier to stop eating junk food if you stop buying it or going to places where it is easy to indulge. If you have a goal to do a project, or write a book for example, it will be easier to have a dedicated work-space free from distractions to achieve this goal, rather than working on it on a messy desk with a phone next to you with constant Facebook notifications.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself
Eating some cake or procrastinating instead of working on that project isn’t a moral failing. If you beat yourself up for slip-ups you can end up in a negative spiral, that infuses the habit in question with a sort of power that you feel you have to fight with. Remember that forming habits is a *practice*, which involves skill and effort. Next time you slip up, try and forgive yourself, remind yourself about your greater vision, and get back on the wagon.
- Write a life planning template
I really like this post from Neurohacker collective, about dividing your life and goals into categories, e.g work, family, relationships, etc and thinking deeply about what you want and value in each category, as well as the steps you need to make to bring those visions into reality. This is a good place to start to think about the kind of life you desire and how to create it.
I hope some of these tips help you with making 2019 one of the best yet. To health, joy and living your best life!