Habit change can be difficult at first. Habits are deeply ingrained in our behavior and thought patterns, making it challenging to alter them. Habits provide comfort and a sense of predictability, making it difficult to break out of the routine. Habits are often linked to emotions, so changing them can trigger negative feelings like stress or anxiety. Old habits can be triggered by familiar stimuli, making it difficult to resist their pull. Changing habits requires effort and self-discipline in the beginning. It takes time for new habits to form and for the brain to adjust to the change.
Good habits are formed by consistently repeating positive behaviors, which eventually becomes automatic and unconscious. This process usually takes time, but with persistence and discipline, it becomes a part of your lifestyle. Good habits are often formed with positive reinforcement, such as feeling good after exercising or eating healthy.
Bad habits, on the other hand, are often formed as a result of stress, boredom, or a lack of self-control. They often provide a temporary escape or distraction from negative emotions but eventually become problematic and detrimental to your well-being. These habits can also be formed due to negative reinforcement, such as smoking to relieve stress. It is important to recognize and understand the triggers for bad habits in order to overcome them and replace them with positive behaviors.
Most people tend to set goals and rely on external motivation External motivation, on the other hand, is driven by external factors such as rewards, recognition, or avoiding punishment. It is often less enduring and may depend on the availability of external rewards or recognition. External motivation can be useful in some situations, for example, in a work setting where a promotion or a financial reward can serve as motivation to increase productivity.
While this motivation can work most external motivation becomes more difficult as time goes by. Internal motivation is generally considered better for health goals because it is more sustainable and leads to a deeper sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. When someone is internally motivated to pursue a healthy lifestyle, they are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors consistently, even when faced with challenges or setbacks. This is because their motivation is driven by personal values, interests, and goals, which are closely tied to their sense of self and identity.
In contrast, external motivation, such as the desire to lose weight for a special event or to please someone else, can be less enduring and may wane over time. Relying on external rewards or recognition for healthy behaviors can lead to a focus on the outcome rather than the process, which can be demoralizing if progress is slow or if there are setbacks.
Internal motivation allows for a greater sense of control over your health behaviors and a greater sense of ownership over the process of improving your health. This can lead to greater engagement and more sustained effort, which is crucial for achieving long-term health goals. Ultimately, internal motivation empowers individuals to take responsibility for their own health and well-being, which can lead to greater autonomy and a deeper sense of fulfillment.
Examples of internal motivation when trying to get healthy
A desire to feel better: The desire to improve one's physical or mental well-being and to have more energy, better sleep, or less stress.
Personal values: Engaging in healthy behaviors that align with your personal values, such as being environmentally conscious or promoting animal welfare through a plant-based diet.
Setting personal goals: Setting and working towards personal goals, such as running a marathon, completing a triathlon, or something fun like taking a dance class.
Enjoyment of physical activity: Engaging in physical activity or exercise because it is enjoyable and provides a sense of relaxation or stress relief.
Long-term health: A focus on maintaining good health and preventing chronic diseases in the future, such as heart disease or diabetes.
Improving self-esteem: Improving your physical appearance or self-image, which can lead to increased confidence and self-esteem.
A sense of accomplishment: The satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes from setting and achieving personal health goals.
These internal motivators are based on personal needs, values, and goals, and are therefore more likely to be sustainable and lead to long-term success in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Practices for creating habits through behavior change.
Start Small: Pick a small, manageable behavior to start with and focus on making it a regular part of your daily routine.
Be Specific: Define the behavior you want to adopt and make it as specific as possible, for example, "drink 8 glasses of water every day."
Make it a Routine: Associate the new behavior with a current routine or daily activity, such as drinking water after brushing your teeth.
Track Progress: Keep a record of your progress and celebrate your successes along the way.
Be Patient: Changing a habit takes time and effort, so be patient and persistent. Don't get discouraged if you slip up, just get back on track as soon as possible.
Get Support: Seek support from friends, family, or a support group to help keep you motivated and accountable.
Find Your Motivation: Identify what drives you and why you want to make this change, and keep that motivation in mind as you work to adopt the new habit.
Reward Yourself: Reward yourself for reaching milestones in your habit formation journey, such as every 7 days of consistently following your new habit.
Remember, forming new habits takes time and effort, but with a structured approach, it is possible to make lasting changes in your behavior.
Focus on 1% Better
Focusing on small, incremental improvements, or "1% better," is often more effective than aiming for significant change all at once, as it can reduce the risk of becoming overwhelmed and increase the likelihood of success.
Setting large, ambitious goals can be motivating, but if the steps to achieve them feel overwhelming or unrealistic, it can lead to discouragement and a sense of failure. In contrast, focusing on small, incremental improvements can be more manageable and help build momentum. Over time, these small improvements can add up to significant progress, without causing undue stress or anxiety.
Additionally, focusing on 1% better allows for more flexible goal setting, as the focus is on continuous improvement, rather than an all-or-nothing approach. This can help reduce the pressure to be perfect and foster a growth mindset, where failures are seen as opportunities for learning and growth.
In short, focusing on 1% better can help individuals avoid getting overwhelmed and increase the likelihood of success, by breaking down large goals into manageable, incremental steps, and promoting a growth mindset.
30-day plan to develop simple positive habits
Day 1-7: Start with hydration, drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
Day 8-14: Focus on exercise, start with a 15-minute walk every day.
Day 15-21: Practice mindfulness, set aside 5 minutes a day for deep breathing. When your mind starts to wander, gently redirect your focus back to your breath. Mindfulness is not meditation, it is being present in the moment. (Driving is a great time to practice breathing)
Day 22-28: Get organized, create a to-do list for the next day, and stick to it.
Day 29-30: Incorporate healthy eating, eat at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal.
Remember, the key to forming a new habit is consistency and patience. Celebrate your small wins along the way and don't get discouraged if you miss a day. Just get back on track the next day.