How to motivate yourself to successfully build healthy habits
Building new healthy habits can be quite a challenge. A challenge that we take on again and again. Did you know that some people are able to build a habit in 18 days, while others can do it in up to 254? A bit wonderful and a bit alarming, right? In this article, I’ll give you 7 ways to make sure those habits come in sooner rather than later.
A habit, what is it?
In the simplest terms, a habit is a learned behaviour that we do in an automated way. Often with habits you will hear about the habit loop, which is Guidance/Impulse, Habit and Reward. These three elements work together to create something of a dance of success.
How do you effectively build new habits?
1. Create a train of thought
Routine is your habitual friend. And routine is nothing more than mechanising certain behaviours. At work it usually kills us and is mega undesirable, but in life – it can be just what you need. To easily introduce new habits you will need a train of thought related to it.
Let’s take the example of the habit of starting the day with energy. What does this mean? More often than not, all you need to do is rock the cortisol a little and enjoy the day. What we need here is a train of thought:
- I get up,
- I stretch,
- after taking off my pyjamas and getting dressed, I drink a glass of water
- a quick morning toilet
- and go for a short walk watching the early morning sun.
You want to create something for yourself like a route to work/school with signposts. After all, you walk there without much thought about how to get there. We do the same with the morning. Your train of thought will do it for you. Your micro habit in the evening or morning can be to visualise the thought trains of other habits. This will help you blaze that path to work faster 🙂
2. Reward yourself
Suppose our mental pathway to a new habit starts to get primed. We have already followed it 3/5/7 times. It’s high time to congratulate ourselves. It’s up to you to set the time to reward yourself, but it’s worth rewarding yourself with micro successes.
How you can reward yourself:
- going for your favourite tea at a beautiful cafe,
- noticing that your new habit gives you pleasure/energy etc (yes, this is a reward too),
- allowing yourself 15 mins of retreat and peace in the evening, i.e. a moment to yourself,
- throwing parmesan cheese on your breakfast, or eggs, or beans
- doing what you like best.
The general idea is to stimulate the reward centre. Dopamine, the hormone of motivation, energy and pleasure, is strongly connected with this centre (although it is not a hormone, but a neurotransmitter, but that’s not important at the moment :)). Parmesan cheese, eggs and beans are some of the products most rich in tyrosine, an amino acid that is important in increasing dopamine. In a nutshell: you eat parmesan cheese, you have more dopamine, you’re happier you managed to go for your morning walk again, and bam – a new, healthy life habit takes hold with devilish speed.
3. Replace habits
We have a lot of habits. Good ones and bad ones. Some we’re proud of, others less so. Well it’s morning and we want to create a brand new micro, atomic habit of putting the phone away 1h before bed. After all, it’s so healthy! You want to try it too. And what, sometimes it may not be feasible. BUT, this is where habit change comes in. Since you want to change something, it’s likely that even in bed you’re still texting someone or writing something down. So we have a “bad habit”.
To introduce a new habit and trample a path right next to the old one, but different. Replace one habit with another. E.g. put a book/comic/newspaper next to your bed. Let it be such a reminder. When you’re around the bed with your phone you’ll see the book and you’ll be reminded much quicker that this phone is not important, that you can do something else. You can also have a meditation cushion on your bed, in the middle, reminding yourself that it’s good to calm down before going to bed.
4. Small habits – atomic habits
It probably won’t come as a revelation to you that big changes usually involve failures. But the obvious is worth being reminded of.
A small habit, a micro habit or even an atomic habit (well a very tiny one) are much better. They are easier to implement, they get into our blood faster and they give us more satisfaction from the success achieved.
What can be an atomic habit?
Going outside after getting up, even for 30 seconds. Once this micro habit is established it is much easier to extend it to a morning walk. Or sticking with our example bad habit of going to bed with your phone. The micro habit, the atomic habit will be to put the phone down and read one sentence/paragraph of a book or magazine. Who knows, maybe the text will be interesting enough to draw you in and you’ll read the whole article or chapter. This will make you happy with yourself and you will repeat the same behaviour the next day 🙂
5. Make resolutions to implement new habits in the morning
Do you catch yourself in the evening, going to bed planning to change, to do something differently, getting up in the morning and not feeling like doing anything and you would love to throw yourself with yesterday’s packet of tissues? It’s because when we’re tired we don’t make the right decisions, we’re harsher on others and ourselves. Try to clear your mind in the evening and go to bed simply with the hope that tomorrow will be better.
And in the morning, in your full strength decide to do some micro habit. It will come much easier to you.
6. Compare yourself to yourself from the past
The best comparison is to yourself. Only we ourselves know what path of personal development we went through, what we faced in the beginning. What was the starting point.
Comparing ourselves to another person, with a different emotional, motivational or even financial background is demotivating. We can have ourselves and our own way. Discovering our own transformation and our own path is inspiring and gives us hope for a better today and tomorrow.
7. Days of pause
Sometimes there will be down days, either come the weekend or a party with friends. If you’re building a habit of not eating after 5pm (because you’re on an intermittent fast), or not eating simple carbs then you may find that a party will ruin all your resolutions. But on the other hand, you have to ask yourself if this is a good approach. Wouldn’t the Pareto principle, 80:20, be appropriate here? That is, 80% of the time build healthy habits, and 20% of the time give yourself slack and space to be. That way you won’t be a prisoner of your self-development, your dopamine levels will be high and your next habit days will be a success. Taking days off can be a good thing!
Sample habits in Fitatu and the motivation function.
The Fitatu app addresses the need to reward habit building success. In the Motivation functionality, it marks your good days and gives you the opportunity to JOIN different habits. New habits you can build with Fitatu:
- Breakfast up to 2h after waking up,
- I don’t sweeten my coffee and tea,
- I don’t salt my meals,
- I don’t eat white bread,
- 21 days no sweets,
- 21 days no salty snacks
- 21 days no fast food
- One month without alcohol,
- I sleep 7-8 hours a day,
- I ventilate my bedroom 15 min before going to bed,
- I don’t watch TV 1h before going to bed,
- 6000 steps a day,
- 8000 steps a day,
- 30 minutes of extra activity a day,
- and many more.
Do you prefer the web version? No problem. A basic web version is prepared for our subscribers. And now you can use the HABIT-F discount code by going to https://www.fitatu.com/app/giftcode and get 29% off your monthly Fitatu Premium.
What else can you find in Fitatu Premium?
- over 1000 recipes plus several new ones every month
- additional plans for intermittent fasting
- the ability to create shopping lists
- a choice of six ready-made menus full of meals to choose
- filtering products and recipes
- more synchronization with fit apps
- access to the application in the web version
- no ads!