We've been talking about making changes in the New Year and focusing on the dreaded resolutions for all of January. Today I was thinking about how to change habits. Perhaps you want to add something into your schedule. A lot of people just try to add something and never think about what it means to the rest of your schedule. Read the following example so I can illustrate what I mean.
Janet has been working full time for several years as well as being a wife and managing a few volunteer projects like working with her church and writing a blog that she loves dearly. She writes in her blog twice daily and works at her church fives day of the week after work. Her work is fairly demanding and requires some of her free time to be successful. Janet really wants to use 2011 to be healthier and to incorporate a new habit of exercise. At this point, Janet does not do any structured exercise at all. The most exercise she gets is on grocery day when she is walking around several stores and carrying bags into the house. She would like to add 30 minutes of exercise 4 days per week. This has been a problem in the past...how can Janet change this habit?
The first thing Janet has to realize is that if she has never been able to fit exercise in before, it will most likely end the same in 2011 if something is not changed. Here are some steps that Janet (or you) can take to form a new habit in the new year!
1. Take something out of the current schedule: Since Janet has not been able to schedule exercise in the past, something has got to give. Janet decides that she is going to cut down to only helping the church 2 days a week freeing up some time. She has also decided that it would be okay to only do 1 hour of work per day in her free time and keep the rest for the office. Janet also decides to hire someone that comes in once a week to do the deep cleaning in her house. This frees up plenty of time for Janet to head to the gym, take a walk, or even take a class! Something must give for you to build a new habit!
2. Don't do too much too fast, you will burn out: When we try to form a new habit, we often go full force and do things that we would never have done before. When we do this, it often stops us dead in our tracks at about 2.5 weeks. We are not able to meet those kinds of demands for long periods. We can however make small goals and slowly step up what we ask of ourselves. In Janet's case, just taking a 10 minute walk three times a day might be a giant feat but if she continues to step up time and intensity, she may get motivated enough to make exercise a daily habit..not just a few days a week.
3. Visualize success: Visualization has been proven to be affective to get you to do something and follow through. Janet should envision herself coming home from work and immediately getting into her workout gear and heading out to the gym or for a walk. This will help her not to go to the couch, plop down and stay there until bed time.
4. REWARD: Don't be so hard on yourself...reward your small successes. Janet decided that each time she finished one thirty minute workout she would stop by her favorite organic food store for a quick healthy snack. She now gets excited each time she works out for her whole grain bagel!
I hope you all add a new wonderful habit in the new year! Good luck!