After reading Gretchen Rubin’s book ‘Better than Before’ on habit formation I decided to put some of her strategies into action.
I won’t go into the ‘why’ details (read her book), but a strategy that can work for people with my personality is to closely monitor yourself.
I devised a daily planner where I tick off whether I exercised, ate a THM breakfast, lunch or dinner, and did several other daily tasks. I know, I know, it all sounds rather tedious and extreme but…
…IT IS TOTALLY WORKING FOR ME.
I have been surprised how something so simple has a powerful effect on me. I seriously feel guilty if I put a cross next to THM lunch or whatever. I think it helps that I am also a visual person, so seeing ticks and crosses laid out in front of me helps me to see the scale of any ‘cheating’ and where I’m doing well. I’ve also found it has been a terrific prompt to do things around the house when my sleep-deprived brain isn’t firing on all cylinders first thing in the morning. Hopefully I will get to a point where my tick sheets are no longer required as these new, better habits become ingrained.
Another useful strategy for me is rewards. I wrote down some goals that I want to reach, and allocated rewards that I will be given when I hit those goals. I got a whole bunch of gift cards and cash for my birthday which I have handed over to D. When I reach a specific goal he will release a card or some cash to me. The more difficult the goal, the bigger the reward. I’ve only just started this so I haven’t hit any goals yet, but I am looking forward to doing so.
If you are someone who is only doing so-so with any kind of habit change, such as sticking to a diet, exercising regularly, or sticking to a spiritual discipline, try really thinking about what strategies have worked for you in the past, and what haven’t. Think about what suits your personality. It’s no good telling yourself you will get up at 5am in the morning to go to the gym six days a week when you are not a morning person, and would be much better off exercising after work.
Have you tried different strategies to create a new habit? What works for you?