Taking the first step: 7 tips for building new habits

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Have you started the year with grand plans for your resolutions?

Having a goal is a great thing, and I definitely believe in thinking big and setting yourself a challenge. That said, if you’re planning drastic changes, you need to break things down a bit: otherwise it’s too easy to get demotivated and give up early on.

Forming habits is an easy way to make steps towards achieving your big goals, and ensuring you don’t lose hope on the way. If you make small and realistic changes gradually, you are far more likely to achieve what you set out to do.

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, get fitter, or have another resolution in mind, here are 7 tips to help you get to where you want to be.


1. Choose something that is important to you

If you’re going to stay motivated, your resolution needs to be something you value.

Great resolution: "Getting the confidence I need to wear that swimming cozzie out"

Great resolution: “Getting the confidence I need to wear that swimming cozzie (out of the shower)”

It’s too easy not to go for your fitness class if you’re just “getting fit” because it feels like the right thing to do at the start of the year.

Why do you want to get fit (or lose weight, run a marathon…)? Put a real emotional connection behind your goal and it will be much easier to motivate yourself and see things through because you’ll know exactly why you want to achieve it.

Let’s look at “weight loss” as a goal. If you can put a deeper meaning behind it, like: “feeling great in my wedding dress”; “feeling confident to wear a bikini on holiday” or “having the energy to play with my kids”, how much more motivated will you feel to make the changes you need to?


2. Choose something that is easy to start

The smallest changes can make the biggest difference because you are more likely to stick to them and see new habits form. When that change is something that comes easily, you can keep build on it, taking the next step when you’re ready.

Try and break your big goal right down. Rather than “I’m going to get six pack abs” think in terms of small changes you can make to your exercise or your diet to get you off on the right track. Maybe something as easy as “I’m going to take one less sugar in my tea,” or “I’m going to do one minute of core exercises every other day”.


3. Trigger the behaviour

You need a reminder to help you start doing your new thing. If you can make the little changes part of your daily routine, it should become really easy to follow through. Try using ‘if’ and ‘then’ planning.

For example, to support a healthier eating plan: “If I am offered dessert at a restaurant, then I will order a cup of tea instead.” To start building more stamina for pole fitness outside the studio: “If I am walking the dog, then I will jog for ten steps and walk for twenty.” There’s scientific proof that if-then planning can make you twice as likely to succeed in your goals, so it’s definitely worth a try.


4. Stay consistent

Creating routine around your new habit is essential, and the if-then planning can really help as your reminders will always be the same.

You may need to create a new routine to help you make a change. For example, if you don’t have a dog to walk, but your resolution is to start running, then you could think about walking or running to the local shop to get a pint of milk every morning.


5. Remove temptation and blockers

If you change your environment and schedule to help you, it makes it more likely you will achieve your goals. Consider what you can do to help yourself by working out exactly where things may start to go wrong. Don’t buy the foods that will sabotage diet changes – you can’t eat something that isn’t there. Make sure you have the right clothing and motivational playlists ready on your MP3 player for your morning run – if it’s easy, fun and the weather isn’t a barrier, you’ll be more inclined to go.


Pole fitness ladies6. Get some support

Without support from the people around you, it’s going to be tough. They need to understand what you are trying to achieve and why it’s important to you, so that they can encourage you and help you stay motivated. Whether it’s a close friend, partner or your whole family, make sure you share your plan with them and ask them to help you form your new habits.


7. Reward yourself

If you’ve made a commitment to change and you’re on track, you ought to celebrate your successes to help you stay motivated. Rewards can be anything that has value to you – getting your nails done, ordering a new book, having a day out. Set mini-milestones and reward yourself when you get there: you’ll have earned it.


The road to achieving your resolutions may seem long, but the journey can be half the fun if you plan and set yourself up for success.

Let me know on Facebook or Twitter what your goals are for 2016 and if there’s any support you need. Here’s to getting you where you want to be in the new year!

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