As we get into the rhythm of 2021, many of us see the new year as a call for a new beginning.
If you’ve got some old habits that are no longer serving you, and you want to replace it with a better-for-you habit. Listen up! We’ve got some excellent tips for you to get started.
1) Find your WHY
This is your ultimate reason for making the change. Let’s face it, change is hard, your body and mind will resist it wholeheartedly. And when things get tough, it’s your WHY that keeps you going. Without a strong and powerful why, it’s nearly impossible to kick your old habit and make the new one stick.
Let’s take exercise for example. Exercise is a form of controlled stress on your body, and our bodies don’t like stress even though exercise will give it strength, better function, and stronger bones. Until you get into the habit of exercising regularly, your body and mind will fight you to stay on the couch when you plan to workout.
This is when you call in your big WHY to remind yourself what you’re doing it for.
2) Set goals, big and small
A Harvard study shows that people who set a goal are 10 times for likely to succeed than those without. And if you write down your goal, then you’re in the top 3% who are 3 times more likely to succeed than those who don’t write down their goals.
Why does goal-setting make such a big difference? Because it gives us a goal-post, and something to strive for.
A goal should be aspirational, not overwhelming, which means it’ll keep you on your toes because it stretches you, but not so much that your mind gives up whenever you think about it.
At our studio, we have a coach to help all new members set an aspirational goal before they start their training with us. And this is why we’ve seen so many exercise newbies still going strong 6 months on.
Apart of the big hairy audacious goal (your B-HAG), you also need to support it with smaller process goals. These goals are easily trackable from week to week, and they’re the ones that’ll hold you accountable and keep you on the straight until you reach your B-HAG.
3) Celebrate your successes
As the busy high achiever that you are, you probably don’t take enough credit for what you’ve accomplished. Because there’s always something bigger on your to-achieve list.
If we don’t reward our self for kicking goals, it depresses our dopamine release (reward function) in the brain. You won’t get the high for having accomplished something that was a challenge for you – remember your goals are meant to stretch you, so by achieving it, you’ve done something you didn’t think was possible before. That deserves a big celebration!
Furthermore, as the saying goes – success begets success. As we achieve goals (big and small) and acknowledge our job-well-done, it creates emotional momentum for us to keep going, and reaching for bigger goals.
So let’s take the time out to truly acknowledge what an amazing job you’ve done, before moving on to the next goal.
4) Relapses are key
Let’s again take exercise as an example. Everything is going very well, you’ve been doing your 3 sessions a week, which is 300% more than what you’d ever done. You’re happy with your achievements and you’ve celebrate your 30th visit, your 50th visit, and maybe even your 100th visit (yes, we do this for our members, it’s called the Leap Champions).
Then you have a big night out celebrating your 40th birthday, and miss training the next day, and the day after that…You kick yourself – you’ve been so good! And now you’ve fallen off the wagon. What’s the point of getting back on again?
You know what? It’s those times that we exercise our resilience muscles and really see how strong our habit is in keeping us going.
Like in meditation, meditation isn’t about having no thoughts and an empty mind (like a lot of people believe), meditation is about becoming aware of your thoughts and then gently putting them aside and returning to your focus which could be your breathing. And it’s these ‘reining in’ your thoughts that build your meditation practice.
And establishing a new habit or kicking a habit is exactly like that! It doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to go astray once you start. Bringing yourself back on track soon after the relapse is the precise thing to strengthen the new habit.
5) Be open to new things
I was talking to a friend the other day, who told me that 2021 is her year of experimentation.
What the heck is that? – I asked.
She went on to tell me a story of how she went on a low-carb diet in 2020 because she had a persistent cough she couldn’t shake (and no it wasn’t the C-word cough).
She believed that her cough was diet-related, and in particular, carbohydrate was the culprit. So she bought a book and went on for months cutting down her carbohydrate intake, swapping out her favourite foods – noodles for zoodles (zucchini noodles).
Eventually tests confirmed that her cough was related to heart burn and had nothing to do with her carb intake.
Did she feel that she’d missed out on all her favourite meals for nothing?
Nope! ‘I found I’d been eating more vegetables as a result of lowering carbs, which is something I’d always wanted to do but had trouble doing. I also felt more energetic, and I just felt healthier as a result.’
Her key message here – ‘If I hadn’t given it a go, I wouldn’t have known it’s so good for me!’
If you’ve been in the same routine for a while, and you’re comfortable but you know you could benefit from something new, then take the LEAP and give the ‘new’ thing a go!
Take exercise for example, walking may have been your only exercise for 2020 and you’ve gotten into the habit of doing daily walks, which is great for your body and mind. But you know you need to up the ante, and add some resistance exercise and cardiovascular exercise to make your exercise program well-rounded.
Your challenge is to adopt a mindset that’s open to change. Because like my friend has found out, an experiment could bring unexpected benefits that pleasantly surprise you.