By Angie Hurley, CSCS, CAT(C)
A habit is a regular activity or action. In our current situation, where lives were disrupted to an extreme with no firm deadline in sight for a full return to normalcy, we can lose our good habits and develop negative ones.
While it may have taken you years to build the many habits that allowed your life to be a well-oiled machine, it may only take three months at home to start to lose them.
One of my pandemic reads was Atomic Habits by James Clear. Clear lays out four keys to building habits:
- Make it obvious
- Make it attractive
- Make it easy
- Make it satisfying
Make it Obvious
When making a change, try to be as specific as possible about the habit you desire. Instead of saying, “I will go to the gym”, you should state specifically, “I will go to JK Conditioning on Monday and Thursday at 3pm”.
This concrete statement is designed to take the guess work on how to achieve the habit out of the equation. Make the action, location and time obvious to you, and others.
Make it Attractive
Clear suggests that you pair habits with ones you already have, and even better, with ones you love.
For example, if you really enjoy your morning coffee, add 10 minutes of meditation to drinking it. Bundling the habits allows for the enjoyment associated with coffee to blend with meditation.
Make it Easy
Break a big change into smaller, more achievable components. Increased achievability will increase your success rate and the feeling of accomplishment fuelling your motivation.
Train your motivation and willpower with practice and fuel. If your motivation level rises and falls depending on the day, a simpler change is likely to stay within the lowest motivation threshold than a larger change.
The 1% Shift
Dr. Greg Wells, a Canadian Exercise Physiologist, professor and author, focuses on optimizing human performance and wellness. Through his work with diverse populations from high performance athletes to children at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, he recommends even making 1% changes in habits and actions to optimize a high performance life.
Essentially, don’t try to create a brand new routine disrupting your entire life. Make the 1% overhaul; like trying to change your coffee to decaf instead of giving coffee up completely.
Make it Satisfying
Track the daily habit success on an app or calendar so you can see your success. A streak of days and not wanting to break that streak, can motivate and remind you to complete your new habit.
Another way to make the habit more satisfying is to reward yourself for benchmarks. Maybe if you go for a walk every day for a month, you will buy new walking shoes.
The biggest thing to accept when making new routines and habits is that mistakes, slips, and errors happen, just don’t turn a slip into the new habit. If you slip and have a bad day or week, reset your mind and accept that you will continue your journey to building the newly desired habit.
Good luck to getting back to good habits and more routine!