How to create the habits you really want

Change is hard! If life has taught me anything, and whether it's habit change or something else, don't over complicate it! As a woman who can think A LOT (over analysing blog coming next), keep things simple. Your body loves simplicity and it will naturally take the path of least resistance.

And of course your desired habit has to be attractive! If you are expecting carrots, cucumber and celery sticks to miraculously win over the Wispa bar, you can probably expect disappointment.

So here are my top 10 Tips to help you create the change you want:

1. Think. What is it exactly that you want to do, or stop doing? Make some time to really ponder this, it will be worth it. You also need to write it down, like a commitment to yourself, on paper.

2. Plan. While you're writing down what you want - the habits you want to create and to stop, keep the pen in your hand and put a plan together. As the saying goes, “it takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan". The more detailed it is, the more likely you'll help yourself to succeed. 

Write down WHY you want to change your habits - these are your motivators.
Identify everything that could be an obstacle AND that could help you achieve progress. In the process you may uncover a number of habits you want to change when you look at the bigger picture but start with just one. You know the chances of failure increase as soon as you start to take too much on, so don't sabotage your own success.

And start small. If you want to get to bed earlier, start with getting ready 10 minutes earlier. If you want to start cooking more, choose one evening when you're not rushing around being a taxi service for the after-school kids clubs. Or make it a weekend day.

3. Decide on a start date. Proper planning takes time. Don't rush into things because you'll likely discover the curve balls you hadn't accounted for. If your habits are food / eating related, look ahead and check what's coming up in your diary......go through your cupboards, get your shopping sorted, research and get help if you need to.
If you've tried changing certain habits before, think about what worked and what didn't. What stopped you before? What did you learn? How did you overcome any obstacles?

4. What are you triggers? This one is absolutely key. Most habits have multiple triggers. Particularly if you want to stop doing something, you need to become aware when and why you do something. Many of our habits are mindless and automatic so really think about the process you go through when you find yourself doing something you wish you didn't. Like the biscuits you automatically get out of the cupboard as you put the kettle on for a cuppa. You might realise it happens when you have your mid-afternoon break, when you're flagging a bit and in need of some time out. So your triggers may be low energy, tiredness and stress.
5. Substitute your habits. For each trigger, you need to find something positive to do! It may be some breathing exercises, journaling, going for a walk, walking away, decluttering or organising something. Experiment and see what works.

6. Build your caring committee. You may be someone who's not hot on asking for help, but success is so much easier with support! Who is understanding, talks honestly to you, will give you a nudge or a hug when needed or is happy for you to bend their ear? Surround yourself with like-minded people - join a group or forum. And get professional help if you need it - just as you would when your car breaks down or you get tooth ache.

7. Be realistic. Changing habits can take time - it's likely you'll wobble - it's called being human. We don't have the ability to remain focused 100% of the time, there's this thing called life! Persistence is vital though.

8. Beware of your inner critic. Do you have a nit-picker on your shoulder? A voice that might undermine your focus and efforts? Be mindful that you are NOT your thoughts! Try to step back and detach yourself from this negative voice. Why not give it a name and tell it to piss off! If it tries to say you aren't good enough, fight back with the truth - facts that prove it's wrong, like the things you have achieved and succeeded in!

9. Be kind to yourself. Rome was not built in a day. Manage your expectations and remind yourself of all the positives. As humans we do have a tendency to focus on the negatives (in an attempt to help us learn and not make the same mistakes again). Write yourself motivational or love notes at night, so you find them in the morning, keep a happiness jar (of the things that bring you joy) or write 3 things you are grateful for every day in a journal.

10. Begin. Just that. Begin to think. Begin to plan. If you come a cropper, just begin again.

And remember don't beat yourself with a stick, dangle the carrot!

Mel x


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