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Habit formation and how to sustain it!
It is said that habits take 21 days to form, so in a matter of 3 weeks you can create a new habit or in fact lose an old one!
At the beginning of the month (January) lots of people would have made a concerted effort to eat healthier, go to the gym, quit smoking and more… but how many are now starting to find it difficult to sustain their new regime? After just a couple of weeks motivation starts to wane and because we have a couple of days where we don’t do so well, we start to give up.
Here are some tips to help you get back on track and motivate yourself to achieve those goals you were so determined to succeed at on January 1st.
- Be realistic… I attend a dance class which is held at a leisure centre once a week. Since the beginning of January I have struggled to park because the car park has been packed; a problem I never had before Christmas. I wonder how many weeks it will be before I can park again? Personally, I could think of nothing worse than spending hours on a treadmill or step machine and I truly believe that a great deal of the people who are attending the gym now feel the same, but they joined a gym because they thought it was what they ‘should’ do! The point I am making is that you have be realistic about what you can achieve and, more importantly, what you will enjoy enough to keep you motivated. Maybe joining a gym feels like the right thing to do, but is it really something you are going enjoy? Would a dance class be more fun for you, or maybe joining a group of walkers or runners would suit you better? Ask yourself what you would be most motivated to do, and if a group activity might give you more motivation. A friend of mine took up netball as a new years revolution three years ago and loved it so much she not only still goes but plays in the first team and is the club secretary.
- Write your goal down… Whether your goal is to get fitter, lose weight, get out more, or to take up a new hobby, write it down. Writing down a goal can really help you to work towards it. Once you have written it down ask yourself the best way for you to go about achieving it and then write down the small steps you will take to get there. Make a plan on when you will complete each step and then take action. Remember tip 1., keep it realistic. While your goals are in your head they are dreams… on paper they become something tangible
- Don’t beat yourself up… We all have bad days! Don’t beat yourself up just because you didn’t get to your yoga class this week, or because you have put on a pound in weight after losing three. If you allow the negative voice in your head to start telling you ‘you’re wasting your time’ and ‘whats the point anyway?’ you are on a slippery slope to failure. Instead, remind yourself of everything you have achieved so far and tell yourself its perfectly ok to have a dip in motivation. Even top athletes, guru’s and world renowned superstars have bad days!!
- Reward yourself… Once you have crossed a couple of steps off on your list of actions towards you ultimate goal give yourself a pat on the back and reward yourself. Your reward has to be something personal to you, but make it count. By telling yourself you are doing a great job and rewarding your hard work you are making that positive voice in your head louder. Keep working on telling yourself how much you have achieved and how well you are doing and look for the little positives in each and every day… if you look, you will find them!
- Create a habit loop… Whats a habit loop you might ask? Well a habit loop has 3 components, the cue, the routine and the reward. If the loop is repeated enough the brain starts to recognise it and then will notice if it isn’t there. For example, if you want to start running to improve your fitness you can create a habit loop in which you place you running gear by the bed so its the first thing you see when you wake in the morning to remind you to go for a run (this would be the cue), then the routine is the run you take at the same time each morning, running the same route each day. The reward you get is the release of endorphins which will make you feel happier and lift your mood. This reward is more for the deep part of you then reacts to the chemical releases which happen when you do something good, you still get to reward yourself as suggested in tip 4.
- Be flexible… Finally, remember to be flexible! If things regularly change, so you will need to adjust your actions. Not everything goes according to plan so be flexible and make adaptations when necessary. Being flexible is a positive way to deal with the curb balls that life throws at us and the more you can adapt, the more successful you will be!
For more information on how Hypnotherapy can help with your levels of motivation please email [email protected] or call me on 07854907285.