How to Build Healthy Habits

How to Build Healthy Habits

New year, new Passion Planner, new you…well, maybe. With a new year here and everyone around you making resolutions, it can be difficult to avoid jumping on that bandwagon. Change is hard, and it takes way longer than the 1960s assumption of 21 days. According to a study at University College London, researchers discovered creating new habits actually takes 66 days, although individual times ranged from 18 to 254 days. Don’t get discouraged – while true change takes time, self-determination and your Passion Planner will help you along the way.

Get to Know Your Habits

When you look to build healthy habits, you want change; but first, you must take a minute to observe your current habits. Do you leave a pile of dishes in the sink until it is overflowing? Do you wait until the last possible minute to study? Do you start going to the gym for a week only to quit for the next three weeks? Look for patterns in your behavior and become aware of what things you’re doing probably without even thinking about them. If it helps, write these behaviors down and think about which ones you want to change. Don’t even think about changing them all at once, so choose one or two to prioritize first.

Write Out the Steps

So how are healthy habits developed? Your Passion Planner is one place to keep all your habit goals on track. Write your one or two top goals in the Passion Roadmap, and create your Passion Plan by writing step by step actions to reach those goals. For example, if you’d like to build a habit of exercising three times a week, outline steps like getting a gym membership, finding a fitness class you enjoy, marking in your calendar when you’ll go to the gym or creating rules for “making up” missed days. Now go through the next month and plan out when you will hit the gym. Remember that creating a new habit means you are likely filling a time period when you used to do something else. Take into consideration your schedule, stress level and complexity of the new habit before you decide to take it on.

Practice Patience

Another trend people fall into is being too impatient for results. Remember, your new habit could take a few weeks or even the better part of a year to stick. If you have always waited until the last minute to study, it might take a while to adjust to a new schedule, so don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t rely on willpower or motivation, because they are fickle forces that can easily backfire. Instead, try to make a routine easier. For example, if you’d like to eat more vegetables, you can’t keep unhealthy things around the house and expect yourself to choose veggies over chocolate. You shouldn’t beat yourself up if you don’t have the drive to take yourself to the grocery store for fresh food, so keep some vegetables stocked in the freezer. Also, program your new habit into your day. Write it in your Passion Planner and make it a part of each day (or however often you choose).

Review and Reward Yourself

The human brain is highly sensitive to rewards; we crave instant gratification and often fall into unhealthy habits as a result. However, you can use this desire for rewards to your advantage. Find out what your brain and body truly crave and find a healthy response to it. For example, if you keep up with running every other day for a week, reward yourself with a new pair of running shoes. On the flipside, try consequences for when you don’t meet your goals. If you miss a week on keeping up with household chores, for example, give a sum of money to charity. If you’re wondering how to track healthy habits, use the Monthly Reflections pages to follow your progress. If you’re close to making a behavior into a habit, consider going back to your Passion Roadmap and try a new goal.

Remember that change doesn’t happen overnight, and you’ll experience setbacks along your journey. If you missed a few days of your habit-making, it’s okay. Log that into your Monthly Reflections and see what you can do better the next month. Don’t try to change all your habits at once, but rather pick just one and put all your focus into it. Pick a habit you’ll enjoy or that will at least create real change in your life. Write everything down, carve out time in each day and hit the ground running.


References:

5 Hacks to Effortlessly Build Healthy Habits in 2018. Nerd Fitness, https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-build-healthy-habits-that-stick/

Creating Healthy Habits: Make Better Choices Easier. National Institutes of Health, https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/03/creating-healthy-habits

Dean, Signe. Here’s How Long It Really Takes to Break a Habit, According to Science. Science Alert, https://www.sciencealert.com/how-long-it-takes-to-break-a-habit-according-to-science

Schulte, Brigid. How to Build Good Habits -- And Actually Make Them Stick. The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/03/02/expert-ten-super-smart-ways-to-build-good-habits-and-make-them-stick/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9b0c6e10ab77

Scott, Elizabeth, M.S. Maintaining Healthy Habits In Five Simple Steps. Very Well Mind, https://www.verywellmind.com/maintaining-healthy-habits-3144721

Cara Batema is a freelance writer and musician based in Los Angeles. She likes to write about the arts and psychology.