The process of forming new habits has been well documented by behavioural psychology researchers such as B.J. Fogg and Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg. Once you have identified that you want to alter your behaviour, you may need to make some changes in your environment to support this shift. On your health journey, this may involve shopping for fresh, healthy food, setting up a workout room or location to do exercise, and having friends around you who support your new habit. Then it’s about taking many small steps to support the changes you’ve made.
Charles Duhigg speaks about the habit loop having three steps – cue, routine and reward. Using the example of creating an exercise habit, your cue may be the alarm going off in the morning to start your day. The routine will be the new workouts you are doing each day and your reward will be the benefits you get – such as an increase in physical and mental energy levels, connecting with friends and coming closer to your long-term health goal. Be sure to vocalise your success so that your subconscious hears the positive affirmation associated with the new habit, even if that simply means saying to yourself, “Great work!” The reward is extremely important as it creates the desire to repeat the action which then forms the new habit.
To get started with creating your new habits, write a list of the new behaviours you want to introduce. Next to each one, write down when you plan to do it, using an existing habit as your trigger (for example, sitting down for breakfast triggers having a green juice to start the day). Then, in a final column, write down a reward for the new behaviour.
One of the keys to successfully changing your habits is to start small and make it so easy to achieve that you are sure to succeed!