Three Tips for Forming New Habits

Healthy Lifestyle

Dr Gina Cleo

Did you know that you make over 35,000 decisions every single day! That’s quite a workload!  

So that your brain doesn’t become completely exhausted, many of those decisions become automatic – you do them without having to think them through. These automatic actions become your habits and habits are the invisible blueprint of your everyday life. If you have healthy habits and habits that move you towards your goals, then you’re streamlining towards a life of health and success (go you!). But if you have unwanted habits, or habits you’d like to create to set yourself up for success, then see habit expert, Dr Gina Cleo’s three top tips for changing habits below.

1. Set a Trigger 

Behaviours are actions that you consciously think about and decide on, like what to have for dinner, or what to wear to work. Habits on the other hand, are subconscious and mindless. Habits are enacted when they are triggered – that trigger can be the time of day, the place you’re in, or the action that you just did. For example, 12:00pm triggers the habit of eating lunch; sitting in your car, triggers the habit of putting on your seatbelt; and your morning routine triggers the habit of brushing your teeth. So, tip number one for changing your habits is set a trigger for the habits you want to create.  

If your goal is to go for a daily walk for example, instead of saying, “I’m going to walk for 30-minutes a day”, change it to “at 7:00am*, I’m going to go for a 30-minute walk”. With repetition, 7:00am* will automatically trigger your new walking habit and you won’t have to consciously think about doing it.   

*7:00am is just an example, pick any time that suits you 😊 

2. Small changes make big differences 

Numerous studies show that large or complex changes are not only more difficult to achieve but they are more difficult to sustain compared with small, simple changes. Creating tiny habits adds up to lifestyle changes much more effectively than trying to create big changes.  

So, instead of setting a goal to walk 10,000 steps per day (which may be beneficial to your health but is rarely achieved) set a goal to “Increase daily steps taken when walking”, then build on your step count each week or month.  

Consistency is the secret sauce to forming new habits. It’s all about consistency and not intensity. There’s a quote I love by Richard Scott that says, “We become what we want to be, by consistently being what we want to become each day.”  

3. Keep accountable 

Having accountability has been shown to double your changes of achieving your goals! External accountability which can come from friends, family, coaches, and health professionals is essential for when you’re trying to change your habits. Regularly check-in with your accountability buddy and use a Habit Tracker to really help cement your new habits into your daily lifestyle.  There are many examples of Habit Trackers online. 

Dr Gina Cleo

Please note: Dr Gina's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic, please consult your healthcare professional.

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