Have you read Part 1&2? If not click here, if you did, great, let’s look into how you can mentally train yourself to build a new healthy habit by identifying the habit you want to build and the cue you want to use to proceed it, in the same way we analysed cues that set the habits in motion in the previous blog - Part 2, such as
•When I wake up (cue), I go for a walk (routine) and listen to an audiobook from my favourite author (reward).
•When I feel tired (cue), I don’t have a soft drink and instead opt for a black coffee (routine), get an energy boost from the caffeine (reward), feel satisfied for giving up sugars or artificial sweeteners (reward)
•When I come back home from work (cue), I will meal prep for the following day (routine), and once ready enjoy an episode of your favourite series (reward).
• When I get nervous (cue), I bite my nails (routine), to take my mind off the awkwardness (reward).
As you have seen, if you are either looking to break a bad habit, or working on yourself to start new ones, it begins by identifying what the cues are that trigger the habits. As soon as you have the cue, you are set to fix the routine.
Firstly, we need to stop relying on Willpower and Motivation as these will abandon you as soon as you need them most. As soon as you get very busy or the weather is not in your favour, we tend to give up or beat ourselves up for not being motivated.
These are where our hacks to build effortlessly healthy habits come in! Environmental & Programming hacks. We are products of our environment. We can use this information to our advantage, and make the process of building a new habit or changing a bad habit easier by modifying our environment. Look at the places you spend your time. Reduce the steps between you and a good habit, and increase the steps between you and a bad habit. You’ll be less reliant on willpower and motivation and more likely to do the healthy habit or skip the bad habit.
Environmental hacks -
RUN EVERY MORNING: Go to sleep with your running shoes at the foot of your bed, with your running uniform laid out already.
GO TO THE GYM AFTER WORK: Pack your gym bag BEFORE going to sleep the night before.
EAT HEALTHIER: Don’t give yourself an option of not eating healthy – throw out the junk food in your house and start preparing meals the night before.
CHECK YOUR PHONE LESS: Turn off your notifications and uninstall the apps that waste your time.
Programming hacks -
EXERCISE: If you want to exercise more, set calendar alerts at the beginning of your week so that every day at your workout time you receive a cue.
BE SPECIFIC: Plan out your exercise exact time and meal prep exact time.
HEALTHY EATING: Consider batch cooking! If cooking healthy meals every night sounds like way too much work (I hear you on that), consider doing it all on ONE day – it’s a significant time saving, and it also will reduce the steps between you and healthy eating because the meal is already cooked and in the fridge!
When looking to replace bad habits, do some reward analysis on your bad habits. You find you spend too much time watching TV because you love escaping into worlds, and it’s affecting your health. Can you listen to your favourite audiobook but only while walking?
Create rewards that reward you back!
DON’T reward your routine (running) with an unhealthy reward (sugars). That’s “one step forward, two steps back.”
DO reward your routine (running for 5 minutes every day for 30 days straight) with a reward that makes you want to keep running (a new pair of running shoes).
Your life will get busy.
There will be days when you don’t want to do your new habit. Or you want to backslide and go back to old habits. Actually, that will pretty much be every day, especially early on.
So don’t leave it up to yourself!! Stop relying on yourself and start relying on outside forces. In the next blog post, I will share the best tips you can use to get yourself to actually follow through with a habit.
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