We’re all super busy and few people have the spare mental capacity, time or inclination to turn their life upside down in their quest to live a healthier life. And if they do attempt too many dramatic changes all in one go, they often experience false starts or end up going backwards. The problem is they want everything – to get fitter, eat healthier, balance their life, sleep better and get
less stressed – all at once and they want it all today.
If they’re unable to execute this ambitious plan perfectly, usually because it gives them too much to think about, they become frustrated. At this point they usually revert to previous behaviour patterns and, while these previous behaviour patterns may not have led to great results, at least they require little thought and effort.
We see far greater success with healthy living behaviour change when people follow three simple guidelines.
3 simple steps to build healthy habits
1. Break down what you are trying to achieve into the smallest, most manageable steps
2. Take action immediately
3. Track and monitor your progress
Why this approach works 1. Everything you’d like to achieve in life can be broken down into progressive stages. If you have a goal you feel is too large or overwhelming, you might never get started with it and, day by day, the feeling of wanting to achieve the goal but being unsure of how to progress towards it will become frustrating and will sap your energy and motivation. If you are able to break your goal down into smaller chunks and take daily consistent action you will feel in control of your future and your confidence will grow.
2. We all have plenty of items on our to do list. Every positive action we take can change how effective we feel. Stop thinking, ‘I must do XYZ’ and instead begin taking action and thinking, ‘I’m glad I did XYZ. I’m on the way to great results.’ Each positive step you take is one less step you still need to take. 3. Every time you acknowledge a positive action your mood will lift a little. Very soon this feeling becomes addictive, momentum builds and you want to take further positive actions. Let’s look at an example of how all this works in reality… On day 1 we suggested you check your posture. This seems like a simple piece of advice and this is why it’s the first thing on our list. It is simple, everyone can do it, everyone can do it right away, and the benefits that radiate from this one simple change are immense. It’s a total game changer when it comes to health, focus and attitude. Not only does good posture reduce the risk of injury, it will positively affect your energy, mood and productivity. You’ll know that when we become mentally fatigued, we slump physically as our physiology is dictated by our mood. In a similar way, we can use the relationship between the mental and the physical to our advantage. Try it now. However you’re feeling, sit or stand upright, take a breath, and you’ll notice you feel more alert. Now, while maintaining good posture at all times may sound like a challenge let’s look at this objective in relation to the three steps above. 1. Break down the task and begin by aiming to improve your posture for a few seconds at a time. It helps to create task prompts here. For example, every time I finish an email, I check my posture. Or, every time I take a phone call I check my posture. You can also set an alarm to remind you to check your posture or create a visual prompt such as a specific item on your desk. Every time you catch sight of that item you’re reminded to check your position.
2. In this example, immediate action will always be possible
3. Review your day or pause periodically during the day to note all moments of success with good posture. You can also note when it was challenging and give some thought to how you make improvements if these challenging moments occur again in the future.
As time goes by you will notice that good posture becomes part of your routine. It happens without the need for much thought freeing up valuable brain space to focus on something else.
Mastering each new healthy habit in turn creates a layering effect where you are building one positive pattern on top of another. In time you’ll notice that much has changed but it won’t feel as though you’ve had to make a huge effort.
It’s more of an organic process rather than feeling as though you had to turn your life upside down. What’s more, your new way of operating is well practiced which means the changes you’ve made and the results you’re experiencing from making these changes will last.
Already you’ll be on the way to mastering two positive habits – good posture and great hydration. You might also like to notice how your healthy habits influence others around you – it’s amazing how easy it is to lead the physical state of those around you and also prompt others to drink water. By doing this you can positively affect the energy and mood of everyone around you!