How long do you think it takes to form a habit?
You've probably heard that it takes around 21 days.
Well, research shows it can actually take a lot longer depending on the goal.
More like at least 60 days!
We get to this time of year and tend to struggle
to be able to remember what our New Year resolutions were.
All the excitement and promise of a new year conjures up new visions of what we want our lives to look like.
But then just like that, we are facing a change of season, and the daily grind of life seems to have worn us down so much that making it to the weekend becomes the biggest goal.
When something we repeatedly do becomes a habit e.g. brushing your teeth, or tying your shoelaces, our brains are able to function on a lot less capacity compared to when we are doing things that are not in our regular routine .
Forming a habit is actually hard work for our brain!
It also depends on what level of importance we place on the activities we perform, and this is totally individualistic!
It could be having coffee first thing; always having breakfast; going to the Gym before work; making and taking your lunch to work; buying your lunch; having a cigarette; having an alcoholic drink; continually checking your phone; finding yourself at the fridge; replying to emails after work hours; on and on it goes, which show that what we deem as "necessary" affects our level of commitment and our actions.
This is why forming habits such as healthy eating and exercising are very hard to establish unless we are prepared and committed to do them everyday.
Our motivation and inspiration to make positive habits only gets us so far, and we inevitably end up falling off the wagon pretty quickly once this initial energy has diminished, even if we have the best intentions.
Forming habits needs to be a conscious effort in the beginning in order for them to become unconscious tasks.
It is a re-wiring of the brain and to keep the message coming in loud and clear we must actively practice what it is we are trying to cement into a habit.
With the intensity of study consuming almost every tick of the clock the past 3 years I didn't prioritise exercise - ironically when I needed it the most!
I've been working to create better habits around exercise, with the aim being making it a daily practice, as it has always been something I struggle to stick to.
I've made a start by making 'appointments' with myself - doing yoga at least twice a week and walking two hours a week - to create accountability and structure.
I've talked to people who successfully commit to including exercise into everyday, and asked them what they found helpful in setting up this habit.
Some say apps, as you can program in goals to give direction and insight into your progress. An app will also give you reminders, particularly when you haven't performed your set daily goal!
Some say personal trainers as they write up your plan according to your goals and there is accountability on the individual to studiously work to the plan.
Some have done it completely on their own, with a goal in mind and regular tracking of their progress.
Overall they said when you begin to notice the rewards, whether it be increased fitness, weight loss, self-empowerment, strength, etc,
it is the satisfaction in knowing
they are improving their lives that keeps them going.
So there are common themes here:
It's got to be something that we consider important
to us in order to establish the goals in the first place.
So, without any goals there is not the same incentive to start making changes,
or the motivation to continue.
Without a plan, we lack clarity of how those goals are going to be achieved. If we 'go blindly' through the execution of tasks we think are helping achieve our goals it usually leads to people spending energy unwisely for little return.
This can then make us feel discouraged even before we really get going!
Without goals and/or a plan measurement then has no start point, or anchor, to obtain satisfaction by being able to see your progress - further leading to discouragement and failure to continue
So without satisfaction, increased discouragement
and an impending sense of failure the drive to keep the commitment up to make more healthful habits eventually peters out.
Realistically, I think implementing changes you would like to become habitual
needs to envelope at least a 2-3 month time frame - at least!
Preparation is the key to sticking to these healthful changes.
If you feel you would like some support and guidance to achieve the health goals you have, it would be my honour to work with you.
You can contact me via www.calyxhealth.nz