Every January, and at a lesser level in September, masses of people get down to business with their good intentions and resolutions. To only have thrown the towel in the ring by the next month. We’ve all done it, you are only human at the end of the day. You’ll go hard for a couple of weeks, maybe go on a strict diet, or exercise every day for 2 hours, and then you’ll lose all motivation and stop completely, or reduce the amount you do.
Just so you know, this is not your fault, or prove that you don’t have the motivation it takes to succeed.
It’s merely an ability design flaw.
Let’s start with your expectation: How realistic are your future goals?
This is a bit of a conscience question, but putting in the work here, can prevent disappointment in the future.
If for example, you want to run a marathon next year, you don’t just do a little trot once a week for 20 minutes on a Sunday, and then feel surprised that you could not finish a 42K run. Makes sense, right?
Or: if you’re trying to improve your gut health, eating dry, boring salads all week to then gorge on take-away and ice cream at the weekend ‘because you deserve it’ can be a bit counterproductive and slow down your gut health journey.
Or: trying to fit into that dress that’s 3 sizes too small in 3 weeks, and you therefore go for endless walks and live on salad until then. It is very unlikely that in 3 weeks, you’ll be able to fit in that dress. You simply haven’t given yourself enough time to reach your goal.
Sometimes, a habit can be too hard to do over and over again. And relying on motivation alone is not enough. So if you learn how to actually design your new habits in such a way, that they fit into your life, it will be much easier to sustain.
Here are some simple design tips you can use to set yourself up for your new habits.
Ask yourself the question: What makes it difficult to do? Here are some examples to simplify this question for you:
Time: Do you feel you don’t have enough time to do this? Or do you find it difficult to stick to your new habit at the same time every day? Will you have to do this habit daily, or do you have to make an investment in time once, such as making a phone call, or buying a slow-cooker?
Money: Will this new habit cost you a lot of money? Can you afford to pay for what you feel you need to buy, and do you believe it is worth the money?
Physical effort: Is your goal a 6AM morning walk for 40 minutes, but you are a night owl? Or do you find standing up for a longer period of time taxing on your joints, stopping you from doing food prep?
Mental effort: How much creative or mental energy does your task take you? Does it feel as if you have to launch a rocket, every time you try out a new recipe, or do you feel completely drained after every meditation class you take?
Routine: How well does your new habit fit into your daily life? If you have to drive for 40 minutes in the opposite direction after work to visit the gym, chances are you won’t make it there every day. Or if you are used to going out for lunch every day with your colleagues, bringing food from home might be too big of a step.
As you can see, those ability factors can have a big impact on whether or not you’ll commit to your new habit.
Coming back to my earlier question: What makes it difficult to do, let’s flip that around.
How can you make your new habit easier?
Making your new habits too easy to give you much time to think about them, will give you the encouragement to keep going, and even give you that drive to to more. The goal here is to make your habits as easy as brushing your teeth.
Here are 3 ways to make your new habit easier to do:
You can also scale back, by doing something less and less. Such as: walking to the end of the road, if your desired goal is to run a marathon.
These steps most definitely take a bit of time to think through, but keep in mind, you can always change your goals, or revisit your steps. You can come to realise that some steps are too big, and scale back even more, or that you find this step doesn’t work altogether.
When it comes to digestive health, habits of healthy eating and lifestyle are essential. There are many ways to start new habits, but your power will be to make them last in order to change your life.