A client messaged me the other day, frustrated with her progress.
She told me that every Monday she would wake up and have every intention to start implementing all her healthy habits that day for the entire week. Even though she started the week motivated, we all know that motivation alone doesn’t last.
Her daily thirty-minute walk became ten minutes, then, nothing at all. She ate well for two days but by Wednesday, she was too tired to cook and ordered out. But the habit of eating out kicked in and she got takeout the rest of the week. By Thursday, she felt like a failure so the rest of the week “didn’t matter.”
Because of stress and her busy life, she slipped right back into her less healthy, but comfortable, patterns of behavior.
When we spoke during the week, I asked her what strategies she was using to start implementing her new habits and breaking her old ones.
I was met with silence and an, “Uhhh strategies?”
Yes, absolutely. There are a ton of different strategies that busy professionals use to help them stop unhealthy habits and start healthier ones. Below are my five, go-to strategies that I use when I need to break bad habits and create healthy ones:
- Realize that you can’t just eliminate bad habits. Bad habits are typically habits that we develop in childhood. If you’re a fully grown adult, it’s likely that you’ve repeated these bad habits hundreds of thousands of times. Your brain does them on autopilot. Instead of trying to eliminate bad habits, you need to focus on replacing them with your healthier ones.
- Stack healthy habits together. Most of us have some good habits that we adhere to. Brushing our teeth. Making our bed. Putting the toilet seat down. Try performing your new, healthy habit immediately before or after those habits that are automatic. Even better if you do them at roughly the same time every day and set yourself an alarm reminder the first two weeks.
- Involve another person. Gretchen Rubin, the author of “Better Than Before,” a book about forming healthy habits, says that accountability is an important tool for making and breaking habits. Involve a friend, your partner, and/or hire a coach to help keep you accountable to your new habits. Even let the kids join in on your daily walk or participate in meal prep to make healthy habits a part of your family routine!
- Write it down: James Clear in his book, “Atomic Habits” he talks about writing down the new habits that you want to create. Most people who set goals never write them down. Wild, right? Something happens in our brain when we write things down by hand that almost hardwired it into our subconscious. Take it one step further by writing down the time you plan to execute this habit and the habit that comes immediately before/after it.
- Celebrate immediately. Your brain needs to be rewarded for implementing new habits or else, it decides that the extra energy isn’t worth the outcome. Reward yourself, be proud. Write it down, share it with someone or just say it out loud to yourself in the mirror. Feeling proud releases feel-good chemicals in our brain that increase the likelihood of our brain wanting to do them again.
These are my go-to strategies that I use, and I coach my clients to use when we work together in my high-level 1:1 coaching program (You can apply for coaching HERE). I find that these tips are simple but powerful shifts that you can make to help implement and maintain your new, healthy habits. This is what helps set my program apart; it’s about creating a healthy lifestyle by implementing new habits.
Also, don’t get discouraged if you struggle to stay consistent in the beginning. It’s normal to run into roadblocks or days when you slip up. It’s important not to give up. You don’t have to get it perfect right away for the practice to be valuable.
Give yourself some time, be patient, and continue to start fresh with your healthy habits every day. Also, I want to know, what is the hardest part of sticking to a new, healthy habit? Shoot me an email