DISCOVER YOUR ZEN
4 Steps to Creating New Habits
Starting last week, I have been taking you through the process of creating the habit of doing exercise regularly. For those of you who know you have difficulty sticking to a exercise regimen, I suggested creating a habit a little bit at a time. So if you took my advice and are in the midst of creating that habit…great! I’m going to dive a little deeper so you understand the process that I’ve been taking you through.
Let’s talk about forming new habits. We all have times in our lives where we intentionally want to change our behavior for the better and create new habits for ourselves. This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier and drinking more water. Or it could be moving more and taking the dog for a daily walk. Or it could be work related, or spiritual, or… There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits.
Getting into the habit of doing something is often easier said than done. We seem to acquire bad habits without any effort, but getting into a “good” habit can be a little more challenging.
Let’s break it down into a four-step process that makes it easy to follow until we’ve internalized the new behavior and made it a true habit – something we do automatically without having to think about, like brushing our teeth.
Step 1 – Decide What You Want To Do
The first step is to decide what you want that new habit to be. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just tell yourself you want to exercise more. Instead say something like “I will go for a 25 minute walk every single day”. Deciding what your new habit will be and committing to when and how you’re going to do it, is half the battle.
That’s exactly what I had you do at the start. We determined our exercise goals…the what, the when, the how.
Step 2 – Remind Yourself To Get It Done
After setting your goal, the next few days tend to be smooth sailing. You’re motivated and excited to get this done. Sticking to your new habit isn’t an issue. But a few days in you’ll notice that it’s easy to slip back into old habits.
Maybe it’s raining and you don’t really want to go out and walk. Or maybe your day just gets away from you. This is when it’s important to have a daily reminder. A lot of people think of setting an alert on their phone or adding the new habit to their daily to-do list for a while. But the easiest way that I’ve found is to “piggy-back” it on something you already do every day. That’s why I had you choose a “trigger activity.” Perhaps you chose washing the dishes after dinner or waking up each morning. It should be something that happens regularly so that it will appropriately “trigger” you to perform your new goal activity.
Step 3 – Make It Part Of Your Routine Until It Becomes A Habit
Which brings us to the last step. It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. Even before the new behavior becomes automatic, a routine will help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower or relying on daily calendar alerts.
I have found the most EFFECTIVE way of making your goal activity a part of your routine is to break it up into small steps. It gets programmed into your routine so much more easily – with less resistance – when you take it just a little bit at a time. For instance, if you chose that your goal was to take a 25-minute walk after washing the dinner dishes, then the next step might be putting on your walking shoes. That’s it! Stop there. For several days, just put on your walking shoes after washing the dinner dishes. Once it becomes a habit that you don’t even have to think about, then move on to the next step. That step might be grabbing a jacket and walking toward the front door. So you’ll do that for several days, until those 2 steps become a habit after washing the dinner dishes. Then you can finally move on to the next step and start your walk after performing your habit chain each day of washing the dinner dishes, putting on your walking shoes, grabbing your jacket and going to the front door. Some of you may find that you need an extra step or two before hitting that final step. That’s fine! Do what works for you. So maybe you’ll want to add stepping out to your front porch, then after that add going on the first 10 minutes of your eventual 25-minute walk.
Step 4 – Celebrate!
It’s important to celebrate every step of the process. The brain is more likely to create a habit for you if it is associated with good feelings. It’s only natural to be drawn to activities that make us feel good, right?
So when you put on those walking shoes after doing the dinner dishes, celebrate that! I want you to physically put your hands up in the air and say “Yay,” or do whatever gives you a positive feeling. It doesn’t have to be a huge celebration. Just something that triggers your brain to recognize that “Yes, this is a good thing.” (And I don’t have to say that the celebration should not be walking to the freezer to grab a scoop of ice cream…do I? Nope, not an option.) Once that becomes a habit, you’ll move on to the next step. After you get to the end of that “habit chain” and have your jacket, standing at the front door, then celebrate…Yay! Just keep going with your routine, celebrating at the end of your “habit chain” until you reach that final goal. And when you do get there…you’ve got it…celebrate!
Congratulations! Decide to create the new habit, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit.
TODAY’S ACTION STEPS:
1) You should be exercising according to your planned routine. (You can use the exercise program I provided, if it works for you.) If you’re not ready to go FULL OUT with the exercise plan yet…that’s OK. If you’ve been trying out my suggestion of creating a habit, then you may want to add on another step. So…every time you wake up, or finish washing your dishes after dinner, or whatever that regular activity is that you choose as the one to trigger your workouts…put on your workout shoes.
Then do the next step you’ve been practicing. If your chosen workout is taking a walk after dinner each night, maybe you are heading to the front door and grabbing a jacket. If you want to do a home workout from the exercise plan I’m giving you, then maybe you’re putting on some workout clothes (a top and a bottom).
NOW, do the next step. If you plan to go for a walk, just step outside your front door and stand on your porch…and celebrate! If you’ll be doing a home workout, then grab your mobile phone (to access the Fitness App) and stand in your home exercise area…then celebrate! Whatever that next step is just do that. Every day. Every time you put on your workout shoes…AFTER every time you do that trigger activity (washing dishes, waking up in the morning, etc). Remember to celebrate every time you get to the end of this “habit chain.”
If you need a little more time to install those first 2 habits (e.g. putting on your workout shoes, then putting on some workout clothes), that’s fine. Just keep doing that and don’t worry about adding on right now.
2) Remember that you are repeating last week’s meal plan this week.
3) If you have any questions about anything…let me know in the Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/TeamDrVenus/
Previous ACTION STEPS:
(Not a complete list, but some important highlights.)
1) Log in to the Fitness App on your COMPUTER – https://doctorvenus.com/app-login/ – and go to the FORMS tab. If you haven’t completed the Client Agreement form and the PAR-Q form from Day 1’s ACTION STEPS, do that today and sign them. Be sure to click SAVE when you’re done. (You can not receive the meal plan and workout plan when they are released until we have those completed forms on file.)
2) If you haven’t done so yet, send an email to team@DoctorVenus.com and state whether you want a vegetarian or non-vegetarian meal plan. It will be sent to your Fitness App by the next day.
3) If you haven’t done so yet, send an email to team@DoctorVenus.com and let me know whether you want an exercise plan for weight loss (focused on burning calories) or for building/maintaining your mass. So you just need to indicate whether you want a BURN or BUILD program. It will be sent to your Fitness App by the next day.
4) Download the Set Your Goals Checklist and complete it. CLICK HERE to download.
5) Download the Program Planner that you can start using, if you wish. CLICK HERE to download.
6) Download the Kitchen Clean Out handout and use it to guide the clean out of your kitchen BEFORE you start your meal plan. CLICK HERE to download.