The magic of health coaching comes with habit changing!

We all have things we want to improve on (eat better, sleep/exercise/meditate more etc) and often we know what we should do but actually doing it is another matter.  Health Coaching helps you to identify where you can fit in new habits and then helps to keep you accountable and on track.

There are so many fantastic tips out there and recently I have been extra-enthusiastic and curious about habit change after reading what James Clear has to say about it.  He’s the author of Atomic Habits  – I can’t recommend it enough.  I hope helps you make a positive shift.

What are habits?

A repeated action that’s often performed automatically.  You already perform so many habits each day that you probably don’t even think about: think brushing your teeth, having a tea/coffee in the morning, opening the curtains or blinds when you wake up).

Why is it so hard to stick to good habits?

For so many of us, it’s difficult to create good habits and easy to stick with the bad ones.  As James Clear explains:

Generally, there is an immediate outcome and an ultimate outcome. With bad habits, the immediate outcome is often favourable, like eating a piece of cake, where the negative outcome only becomes apparent over time if this becomes a daily habit.  But with good habits, the immediate outcome is often unfavourable.  Think about going to the gym – no immediate results and often even immediate negative consequences, like muscle ache.  Only the ultimate outcome is favourable.

The problem is often that we don’t stick with good habits long enough to see positive outcome.

How do we stick to good habits?

  • Loose the ‘all or nothing’ mentality.  Make small, sustainable changes and set realistic goals.
  • Start where you are and make it easy to begin (do a five minute walk not a half hour run, drink one more glass of water etc) – as you hit these goals you will become more motivated and can do more.
  • Focus on consistency not perfection, so even if you have a day off plan, don’t worry, just continue the next day: “every action you take is a vote for the kind of person you want to be”.
  • Set yourself up right. If you want to do exercise, get the right clothes out the night before.  If you want to write a journal in the evening, leave it next to your bed in the morning.
  • Habit stacking.

What’s habit stacking?

Identify a current habit you already do each day and then ‘stack’ your new one on top. This works so well because our brain likes to create short-cuts and so here it can associate clusters of activity with each other. It’s a strategy of grouping together small changes into a routine that you follow daily. The key to consistency here is to build your habits into a simple routine or flow that you can perform.  Repetition will help you do this.

Try doing 5 squats before brushing your teeth, for example, or putting your journal or a book on your pillow after you make your bed so in the evening you’ll be more likely to pick that up rather than scroll on social media before you go to sleep.

What’s one new habit you can try this with?

 

Lindsay Guest

 

 

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Thanks to Elena Kloppenburg on Unsplash for the photo