Developing better habits

It doesn’t matter how you define success, and it’s not important whether you are working towards a goal, trying to finish a big task, or simply want to improve your day-to-day life. Developing better habits will help you live a healthier, happier and more productive life.

Habits are the things we do every day without thinking. Perhaps you automatically brush your teeth before going to bed – that’s a habit. Perhaps you come in from work and instantly switch the TV on – that’s a habit.

We have good habits and bad habits. Unfortunately, bad habits are easy to acquire and ultimately lead to poor outcomes. If you choose to watch TV every day rather than go for a walk, you can imagine how it could negatively impact your health.

The key is to develop sustainable positive habits that stick, which can be a challenge for some people. Here are some practical strategies to help you create good habits and stick with them:

1. Break down your goal into small tasks. The idea of setting a large, ambitious goal can be very daunting, so break it down into smaller chunks that you can manage over time. This makes the process more achievable and less overwhelming.

2. Set rewards for achieving each milestone. Sometimes it’s difficult to stay motivated when working towards a larger goal. Setting rewards for achieving smaller milestones can be a great incentive to keep you on track.

3. Track your progress over time. Seeing tangible evidence of the progress you are making is incredibly motivating and will help you stay on course with your goals. Try using charts or graphs if possible, as this will make it even easier to spot improvements.

4. Have a positive attitude. It’s important to remain positive and focus on the benefits of achieving your goals rather than dwelling on any difficulties that may arise along the way.

5. Develop an accountability system. Ask family or friends to hold you accountable for your new habits and make sure you are taking steps to reach your goal. This will help you stay motivated and on track with your goals.

But perhaps the most important thing to do is to make your new habit automatic. You want your body to take over without allowing your brain to engage and say, “Hey! What do you think you’re doing?”

If you intend to go for a jog every morning, put your workout clothes at the end of the bed. You’ll get up, put them on, and be out the door before you know it. If you want to read for 30 minutes every day, keep a book next to your bed. If you want to start flossing your teeth, put the floss next to your toothbrush and make it part of your regular routine.

When you want to lose weight and choose to follow a new diet, don’t keep the food that made you the way you are in the house. Your (bad) habit is to pick up the chocolate bar that you keep in the kitchen – put a piece of fruit in its place. You might not immediately pick the fruit up as an alternative, but you’ll break the bad habit.

Make it easy for yourself; soon enough, you won’t have to think about it. Developing better habits is an ongoing process, but with the right strategies, you can make lasting positive changes in your life.

Make sure to give yourself the time and space to lay the foundations for success. What could you do to start a new positive habit today?