Create a Habit You Don’t Hate

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Often when the new year rolls around we create a list of things that we believe will make us the best version of ourselves. Then we realize there are a lot of things on that list. The sheer number of tasks to become the best version of ourselves seems overwhelming. Sometimes it can cause us to not even attempt one of the many things on our list. I encourage everyone to focus on one goal at a time. A great place to start is to choose the one goal where you are most likely to be successful.

Once you have narrowed down your goal you need to make it a SMART goal. This is an acronym which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. A SMART goal for increasing physical fitness could be, “I am going to add 30 minutes of walking into my weekday routine for the next 3 months.”

Now take this goal and find time for it on your calendar. Are there things you need to drop? “Instead of scrolling through social media first thing in the morning, I will get out of bed and walk.” Maybe this a realistic way to find time in your schedule. Once you find the time, write it down on your calendar like an appointment. Then keep that appointment with yourself as if your life depends upon it!

Make sure the goal you have set for yourself is something you want to do or something you can struggle through until you find it enjoyable. Take running, for example – most people hate running when they get started. It is not something they look forward to, but it is also something that does not bring them pain. It is hard, but not unbearable. If you find walking painful maybe try yoga, swimming, biking, or some other type of fitness class. After a while, your morning walk may be the most peaceful part of your day.

To keep you on track with your goal it is usually helpful to find a way to make yourself accountable. So share your goal with the world! Post it on social media, then post the beautiful sunrises/sunsets you see on your walks to show your progress. You can also join a local club or group that has the same goal. Putting yourself around others who are working toward the same goal makes it harder to fall back into your old habits.

Automate your life for success by setting yourself alarms and reminders. In the mornings when I get up to run I have a “wake-up”, “get dressed”, and “you need to leave” alarm. I am not one to sleep in but I am someone who gets distracted. These reminders keep me focused on the tasks I have to complete and keep me on time.

Celebrate small victories along the way. If you have never been consistent at being active then you might want to celebrate  even a small streak of 5 days. I find a great way for me to celebrate my consistency in training is to run races. If you are walking 30 minutes a day you can walk a 5k for a local charity with some of your friends.

If you can stick with your new task for 90 days you will have created a habit. Research shows that it takes between 10 and 12 weeks to create a habit. Once you reach that 90-day mark you will most likely find it harder to skip your morning walk.

Creating a habit is tough and changing a bad habit is even tougher. Do not be so hard on yourself when you fail; take your 90-days one day at a time. Building healthy habits is hard for everyone. I did not just wake up one day and say I am going to run 4 mornings a week before work. I had to work through these steps just like everyone else. And yes I hated running when I started, in fact, some days I still do, but I use it as my alone time. As a working mom, I rarely get time alone. So find the good things about your fitness goals. Use them as motivators. Then before you know it, you too will feel like you have to get moving to start your day.

For more information, please contact Olivia Jones at 232-2261 or email olivia_jones@ncsu.edu.

Couple doing yoga