Whether or not it is an effect of the pandemic, or the weather, hormones or ill health – we all go through times when we can’t seem to get our butts off the couch and get moving. Either in a literal ‘exercise’ sense, or just finding the energy to get on top of our emails/eating/gardening/life goals in general.
And of course, that’s perfectly normal. We can not be ‘on’ all of the time. Trust me, I’ve tried and it doesn’t lead anywhere good. But after a period of rest and recovery from busy or stressful times, there comes a point when we want to be getting back on the band wagon, but can’t – quite – muster – the - motivation to do so.
So here are my 5 favourite ways to begin a new habit AND stick to it;
1. Set a SMART goal. Yeah yeah, you’ve heard it all before but writing down what you actually want to achieve is an essential component of achieving it. Better yet, put it somewhere visible as a daily reminder to you and others in your house.
Get SMART by making the action;
Specific (what exactly am I wanting to achieve?),
Measurable (how often/how much?,
Achievable (ie baby steps),
Relevant (WHY is this important to me, how will it improve my life?) and
Time based (how long will I try this for?).
2. Tell someone. Share your plans with your partner, friend, on social media or better yet – with your kids. Kids make the best coaches/personal/trainers/bosses ever, and giving them a little power over you; “Mum you’re supposed to be going for a run before dinner” or, “Mum, you’re not meant to eat eggs this month” will help balance the power-struggle books a bit, they’ll love it!
3. Tick it off. This is a super simple yet very effective way to get our brains to help chivvy us into action when all the excuses and reasons NOT to, get in the way. On your calendar (or make a ‘star chart’), put a little red circle on all the days that you are planning your activity (if appropriate, this may not work for every ‘goal’). Then tick them off as you go along (or get the kids to put a star on your star chart) and see how much your brain will not want you to skip a day because it won’t like you leaving a gap on the calendar/chart. Oh and feel free to offer yourself a reward after a certain number of ticks/stars, just as you would the kids.
4. Visualise your life when this new habit becomes part of your normal daily routine. Actually close your eyes and project into the future; a week, a month or a year. How will you feel with this new thing in place? What else has changed as a result? Go deep into the detail and connect with all the wonderful feelings of this slightly new way of living whether it be related to exercise, healthy eating or living more sustainably.
5. Just let go! It’s all too easy for us to pile more and more responsibility onto ourselves. Trying to begin a new habit without first making space, time and energy for it in your life is futile.
Instead, start by letting go of something you don’t really need to be doing so much of. It may be a person that drains you of energy that you could spend less time with. It might be the need to keep a tidy house, or committing to putting down your phone at 9pm so you can get a better night’s sleep. Don’t underestimate the power of letting go when building a new habit.
Oh and this applies to letting go of the outcome too. Sometimes, even with all the will and energy and time in the world, some new ways of living just don’t turn out the way we wanted them too.
Finally, as a bonus action, get some help with your sustainable & health hopes & dreams by joining the SHAPE our Future community. With a weekly online workout, monthly coaching call, guest experts and more, the monthly membership is here to help you stay on track with your health and greener living goals.
Wishing you health & happiness,
Strength & sustainability.