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People say New Year, New Me but is it really true? New Year Yes, but it’s the same old us. The way we change, the way we make changes is by creating new habits. A New Year gives us the opportunity to look at the year with a fresh eye, keep the momentum and the excitement. We can use this month as a bridge to create new healthy habits.
There is a trick on how we can create healthy habits. We think to create new habits takes a lot of energy and time and sometimes we get exhausted when we think of our goal. The truth is we can form a new habit by looking at our goal in small, incremental steps. If we want to be healthier and lose weight, for example, we don’t have to push so much pressure on us and say we want to lose X amount of weight. We can say I can run every day for 20 minutes, I can work out home for 15 minutes every morning.
We’ve read books about how to create habits, we’ve implemented all the advice we learned and it works. We would like to share with you in this article how you can form new healthy habits.
1. Focus on ONE habit.
So many times we write our goals down and we say yes, we will achieve all of them. But at some point after three weeks we get exhausted because the motivation runs out. The goal is to focus on ONE habit at a time. When we see that we just need to run for 15 minutes it’s no big deal right? If we say we need to run a marathon, well it’s a big deal. Just thinking about it makes us tired.
The number one thing that holds us back is ego-depletion. Ego-depletion is “a person’s diminishes capacity to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and actions.”
It impacts our ability to form new habits because our supply of willpower is spread out among all the areas of our lives.
Because of this, it’s fundamental that we work on developing only one habit. Then the question becomes the following:
“What one new habit do you want to form?”
You need to learn everything you can about it, become an expert on this activity and dive deep into learning everything you can. For example, you might want to be consistent with your gym, it means you need to read and understand the reasons why you go to the gym, what are the benefits, how you feel, how you will feel long term.
Because of ego-depletion, it’s very important to work only on one habit, that way your store for willpower can be channeled into completing the habit.
2. Find an ANCHOR
If your new habit is based on motivation, fads or temporary desire it will not last, we repeat, it will not last. It should be instilled in your lifestyle to the point it becomes habitual. There are no sophisticated steps, it’s just something you COMMIT to every day, day in, day out, day in, day out. It’s very simple if you think about it.
A great example comes from B.J Fogg “Tiny Habits” concept. What you want to do is to commit to a very small habit change and take baby steps as you build on. He explains the importance of creating an anchor to something you already do.
“After I finish work, I will change into my workout clothes and run for 15 minutes”
“After I drop my kids at the babysitter, I will stop by the gym for my yoga class”
You get the idea, it’s a simple anchor that you already do but you add your new habit.
3. Baby Steps
The goal is to develop small, tiny wins. That’s all. When we rely on motivation alone it doesn’t last much. The only way to make a habit stick is to turn it to automatic behavior. You can do this by taking baby steps and create a low level of commitment.
The goal is not to achieve a specific goal, but to just do it on a daily basis, that’s it. When it’s a low-level commitment, you’ll be more likely to get started.
Some examples you might like:
• Walk for 5 minutes a day
• Eat one serving vegetables per day
• Wake up 15 minutes earlier
• Run for 15 minutes
• Eat more vegan food
These activities are very simple yet they are very powerful. You want to commit to something that is easy that is impossible to miss a day. Then when you get started, you will do more than you intended.
4. Don’t react plan for obstacles
Every new habit has obstacles. When we know what some of our obstacles are, we can plan and prepare ourselves for those. Here are some examples:
4. Weather (especially in London)
So when we prepare and anticipate we know how to respond to them. So you have an automatic response; “If-then planning”. Here are some examples:
• “If it’s raining, then I will work out at the gym”
• “If I don’t have time for my project at the end of the day, I will start waking up 30 minutes and work on it before anything else”
• “If I have a bad day at work and don’t feel like working out, I will still walk for at least 10 minutes”
There are different ways to go around it. A lot of experts say that you need to post on social media and declare that you are trying to achieve something and that way you will not fail. According to the lessons learned from the Hawthrone effect, you’re more likely to follow through with a commitment when you’re being observed by others.
So you can post your updates on social media, you can use apps like Coach.me to track your progress with your accountability partner or post to an online community related to the habit.
Simply knowing that you will be held accountable for your habit keeps you focused and consistent.
6. Reward yourself
A new habit doesn’t have to be boring. You can build a reward system in place. Once you complete X days of your new habit, take yourself out. It’s important to celebrate small wins because small wins lead to huge wins.
You can say that you will take yourself for a massage for example, so make sure you book with us. You can go to the movies, you can buy a new book, a new pair of shoes, whatever it’s you want.
You can build your new habit and have fun doing it. It doesn’t have to be boring.
7. Build a new identity
Repeating a new habit will get you so far. You can do so much by committing to small actions, doing it every day, increasing the effort over time and overcoming obstacles.
But at some point, you need to go from simply doing it every day to making it part of your identity. Only then you will stick with it without the constant need for reinforcement.
James Clear often talks about something he calls Identity-Based Habits. This idea here is that you can build a lasting habit by making it a reflection of who you are on the inside. Basically what he says that you need to believe that the habit is part of what makes you unique.
It’s basically a shifting mindset. With a new habit, reinforce this behavior by saying things like; “I’m the type of person who regularly enjoys the ___ type of exercise”. Then follow through every day.
When I quit smoking two years ago, I started running more frequently. I didn’t really enjoy it I just did it to help me ditch a bad habit and I created a new healthy habit. Two years now I’ve been running, now I love it, I do it for many different reasons but most importantly it becomes part of my identity, ‘I’m a runner’.
8. Commit for 30 days
Some people say you need 21 days, some people say it’s 60 days the truth is time really varies from person to person and from what kind of habit. Some habits are easier some are harder. We believe that 30 days is a great number to commit yourself to no matter what.
Make it a month, so during this month, you are dedicated to do the activity every single day for 30 days. Your entire life should be structured around making time for your new habit. Once the month is gone see how you feel, reward yourself, remember what we mentioned above?
Then keep on doing it and we are sure you will love it. Maybe you say to yourself, once a month I book a massage at Siam Body & Soul, it’s a legitimate habit and reward. Because a massage is not luxury it’s something that helps our wellbeing. When we feel good, we do good and that’s why it’s important.
It’s really not that hard to form a new habit, it takes discipline and putting in place the right process. Micro commitments will bring you success. Share with us below what new habits you would like to form and how you are going to achieve them.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends as you never know, they might want to start a new habit and this article might want they just need right now!
At Siam Body & Soul we believe we have to prioritise our wellbeing. When we take care of ourselves, we are happier, we help people, we love people, and share our energy with the world.