One of the most important principles I’ve learnt in my time as a coach is to know yourself and act accordingly. This is particularly useful when you are building new habits.
So often I see people set the bar really high and then they find it is unrealistic and they struggle to suceed. On the other hand it is all too easy to set the bar too low and there is no sense of achievement. Both are unfulfilling.
My habit change started back in February with my gratitude diary. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t overlook the things that are already good in my live while I strived to achieve more. By keeping my diary by my bed I have started building a new nightly routine. This puts me in a really good frame of mind before trying to sleep, which is another of my targets for this year (better quality sleep)
From the 22nd February I started to record whether or not I was hitting my 5k step goal and my 1.5 litre water goal. Both were targets that I was already working on. Recording 5k steps on my Fitbit may seem a really low goal to some but I knew that some days I would really struggle whereas on others I would way exceed it. The aim was to raise my game on the lazy days so I needed to be realistic. Some days I don’t even leave the house as I work from home so on those days you’ll find me walking round the house or running on the spot. Whatever it takes I’ve been hitting my target since the 27th March. I found what really made the difference for me was making it a promise to myself purely for my own good. Some nights I can be practically falling asleep on my feet but I’ll do what it takes to get my step count up.
Now you may think this is ‘cheating’ but I include moving my arm around and jiggling in my seat as it is all movement that I would not ordinarily have done. This is where it is really important to be clear in your own mind as to what counts and what is cheating and it’s best to keep in mind what your primary target is… mine is to move full stop.
This far into my new habits I’m really reluctant to break the chain. This is a fantastic way of forming new habits and keeping you motivated. It is a technique that lots of people use and has been linked back to Jerry Seinfeld. Imagine how it would feel to have to start the count all over again now that I have kept it up for over two months! It is all that I need now to ensure that I stick to plan and remember to take my diary away with me when we travel.
Now I’m at the place where I’m ready to increase my target and it’s time to learn from past mistakes. Previously I increased my target by 1000 steps. Now imagine a day when I’ve had to walk on the spot fighting my closing eyes to hit target and I have to do another 1000 steps … not likely to happen is it? Keeping in mind the fact that I don’t want to break the chain it will be really demotivating if I fail so… instead imagine just having to do 50 more steps. That’s really possible and I can soon increase by another 50 when I have built up a bit more stamina.
So to summarise my habit tips:
- start at a level that works for you, small enough to do but enough to give you a sense of achievement
- don’t break the chain (reward charts and stickers can help!)
- don’t beat yourself up if you do break the chain… just start again
- increase in small, do-able increments
- allow yourself to feel good about it
- remember these are YOUR habits to help YOU and don’t let others hijack your goals