We’re a week into 2018, and if you made New Year’s Resolutions you will either be celebrating one week down, 51 more to go, or you will be disappointed that you’ve let them slide already. Either way, I thought it was a good time to share the tips that motivate me to stick to habits.
New habits are hard, they don’t always stick, I’m not perfect, and that’s why this reminder is as much for me as guidance for anyone else. These aren’t new or revolutionary, they’re just the key five things that will help you continue (or restart) the journey to getting your goals.
- Make it easy. If your goal is to do 20 minutes of indoor cycling a day, you don’t want to have to un-flat-pack your exercise bike every time you want to go for a stationary ride. Equally, you can’t leave the thing in the middle of the floor so that you trip over it in the middle of the night in search of a glass of water. There’s a happy balance, but it’s key that you keep your activities as set up as possible so that there are no (or few) barriers to just getting on with it each and every day.
- Do it regularly. It might not be a daily goal you have, although that’s the usual format. It’s important to have a regular schedule of whatever goal it is, though, so that you know when and where you have to do it. Of course plans change and you have to adapt, but it’s a good start to know that when you get home from work you do X, or every Sunday morning you’re going to achieve Y.
- Do it even if you don’t want to. This one really is the most important, despite the fact I’ve sandwiched it in the middle of the others. If you don’t feel like doing it, try and make yourself. If you REALLY don’t feel like doing it, then you have to make yourself. But the trick is to promise yourself you only have to do it for five or ten minutes. The important thing is to do it, so those five or ten minutes count. And you might find that once you’ve started, you just get on and do what you’d normally do anyway.
- Be accountable. This one annoys me because so many other guides, particularly with fitness goals, say ‘get a friend to do it with you!’ and that is just not practical for everyone. Firstly, your goal might be private or secret or a surprise, and secondly, you might not have a friend you want to share with. That’s cool, but you can still be accountable in other ways. Sharing on social media or blogging is one way, getting an app to track your habit (like Streaks) also works. At a very basic level, grab a scrap bit of paper and tick each day off as you do it.
- Reward yourself. You have to be careful with this one, because I think it’s important to want to do the goals or set up the habit for the right reason, not because you promised yourself an Xbox at the end. But there’s no harm in saying if I achieve this, I will treat myself to this. I think it’s better if the things aren’t related so one doesn’t derail the other (ie. if I lose this much weight, I’ll eat an entire sponge cake to myself) and smaller, more regular rewards can be better than waiting endlessly for one big one.
These are the tips that I’m trying to remember and stick to as I take on some new challenges. This time of year can be annoying for endless talk of improving yourself, but it can be a good time to reset, refresh and start something. Starting is the key to everything but these five tips will hopefully help with sticking with it.