Building healthy habits isn’t easy as some internet pundits make it to be.
I can’t speak for anyone else but healthy habits, such as healthy eating or running, usually get placed on the back burner of my priority list when I have a lot going—something we can all relate to at some level.
I bet you feel the same—otherwise, you wouldn’t be here, reading this article. Worry no more.
In today’s post, I’ll show you the exact steps you need to take to build healthy habits and make them stick for life. I’ve found that these simple guidelines can make the difference between dreaming and doing.
So if you want to:
- Exercise more regularly
- Eat healthier
- Feel better in your skin
- Be more productive
- Eat more nutritiously
- NAME YOUR GOAL
Then you’ll love the practical tips from this guide.
Pick One At a Time
The main reason so many fail when trying to build healthy habits is that they set too many, trying to change everything at once. They make the mistake of biting off more than they can chew, only to choke in the process.
Here’s the truth.
You didn’t develop your current (bad) habits overnight, so why should you expect to form new ones overnight? It doesn’t make any sense.
I know, setting big goals is exciting, but doing so leads to an early exit. When you’re trying to tackle many goals at once, you’re spreading thin your energy and focus, overwhelming yourself in the process.
Pick one area of your health and start with simple, and boring goals, instead of trying to fix everything at once.
Choose one habit, make it simple and make it small, preferably something that at the end of the day you can say yes I did it or no I did not.
2. Use Triggers
A trigger is something that causes you to automatically do something else, usually an event that kicks an urge to perform a particular action.
Triggers are crucial for developing new habits and breaking old ones. They are, after all, what makes the habit happen.
These can be anything in your environment, which your brain associates with habits. It can be a feeling (I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m depressed), a time of the day (it’s 5 pm, it’s 10 am), or a time of the week, etc.
For example, if you want to stop eating chocolate cookies, but feel like you need it every afternoon to satisfy your sweet tooth, your brain has been wired to think chocolate cookies after the cue.
Here’s the good news.
You can use triggers to design your behavior, in the same manner, you’d program a computer to carry out certain tasks.
To form a new habit, start by jotting it down in the form of an algorithm
“IF [Trigger], THEN [Perform Habit Behavior].”
For instance, if you commit to always exercising before breakfast, then after a few weeks, you’ll automatically think about your running shoes or the gym before you make your morning meal.
3. Set your Environment for Success
Another way to help you form healthy habits is to design your environment in a way that’s easier for you to achieve your goal and harder to keep doing the things that get in your way.
In other words, make your environment do the heavy lifting.
Here’s how to design your environment for success.
Cut the number of steps between you and healthy habits, and increase the obstacles between you and unhealthy habits. By doing so, you’ll be relying less on motivation and willpower and more likely to carry out the healthy habit or avoid the bad one.
I know this may sound a bit complicated, so here’s a couple of examples.
- Eat healthier. Declare your kitchen a junk-free zone area, throwing out all the junk food. Out of sight, out of mind. Instead, load up your pantry with healthy alternatives and start meal prepping.
- Work out every morning. Lay out your workout clothes on the floor the night before. That way, every morning you have your workout kit ready to go
4. Keep It Consistent
Forming healthy habits is a lengthy process. So don’t lie to yourself by expecting an overnight makeover —it just doesn’t work that way in the real world.
How long will take to turn your new activity into lasting habit varies from one person to person and habit to habit. Some are easier to build, while others require more time.
There’s no universal formula for forming new habits. The exact timeframe depends on many factors, such as the type of habit, your current lifestyle, your preferences, etc.
For example, it might take you three weeks to start getting up earlier in the morning, while you might need four months to get into the habit of eating more nutritiously if you’re a complete newbie.
What does science say?
It can take two to three months to form a solid habit, according to research conducted at the University College of London.
More specifically, the study revealed that on average, it takes 66 days, with a very broad range of 18 to 250 days—for subjects to reach the automatic stage.
What do I say?
I’d suggest committing to a specific habit for the next 45 days (6 weeks) before moving to the next habit.
Here’s an example.
If you want to become a runner, run at least three times, on the same days, for at least your first 30 to 45 days, on the non-running day, cross-train.
Lift weight, swim, bike, go for long walks. As you long as you keep active, you’re deeply building the exercise habit. That would be a good thing if you asked me.
5. Rinse & Repeat
Once you established your first healthy habit—hopefully, six weeks from now—set your next goal and go after it. You’re far from done, my friend.
Take what has worked in your first healthy habit and follow the same procedures for making more healthy choices and behavior changes.
This is the case whether you’re interested in improving your work skills, learning a new language, meeting new people, picking up running, or simply challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone.
In other words, build on the routines you already have.
I suggest that you slowly build your new habits in three main areas: diet, exercise, and lifestyle. Choose one habit form each area at a time.
Having trouble figuring out where to start? Then assess your life and determine which area has the most room for improvement. Is it health? Finance? Relationship?
The rest is just detail.
Some of the healthy habits that you should form include:
- Regular exercise
- Regular yoga
- Reading a book
- Practicing deep breathing
- Calling a friend or family member
- Stress management
- Healthy eating
- Time management
- Assertive communication
- Relaxation and mindfulness
- Being more active
- Learning how to cook
There you have it!
The above steps are exactly what you need to take in order to develop healthy habits for life. You just need to pick your first habit, then go through the process. The rest is just detail.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.
Keep Training Strong