So far, nearly everyone I spoke to in the last few days, brought up the topic of a New Year Resolution. Since hearing a CBC interview with Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, I have been pondering on how to make or break a habit. January 1 is a time of self-reflection, a time to begin a new habit or stop a bad one.
Almost everything we do is routine or habit. From driving a car, to taking a shower, or even getting ready for work, we don’t really think about it, we just do it. Habits and routines can be changed easier than actually creating a new habit. For instance, about a month ago I had to get into the habit of putting my gloves and ear-warmer in my pocket. . . after misplacing them about 5 times. Now it is habit.
According to research, there are a few things a person can do to start a habit (a new year resolution). So here are a few helpful hints to the Happy New You.
When a person tries to make a new habit, it should be something that makes them feel happy or positive and they will be more likely to continue the new behaviour. When I began running, I didn’t really like it. I did it because it was a good, easy exercise and I had a goal. But I kept ‘accidentally’ enjoying myself. . . waving to a neighbour, admiring a garden, looking over the Bay, noticing that I was feeling good, until one day I realized I actually liked running.
Another helpful hint is to use a routine we already have, to help create the new one. I wanted to drink more water, plain water. Since I already drank a couple of cups a tea in a day, whenever I made tea or went to the sink, I drank a glass of water. I purposefully left a glass beside the sink, and added the glass of water to the routine. I created a new habit.
Starting a new habit often requires repetition and practice. Sometimes putting the new habit in your planner or calendar will help stick to it. Or posting a piece of paper to check mark (like in school). The more a person actually does the new habit, the easier it will be. Is your New You resolution to become more fit and get some exercise? Go to a gym/fitness centre. Make it part of you routine on the way TO or FROM work. Put it in your agenda and do it. Even if you only are there for 15 minutes, you are creating the repetition to make a new habit.
Another hint is “one at a time”. A recent cartoon had 2 people talking about their resolutions. Upon hearing her friend’s resolution, one character remarked “you need to be more optimistic.” She replied, “I can’t. I can only do one thing at a time.” So go ahead and make that list, but only one at a time.
The last hint is to not “throw in the towel”. Creating a new habit is not easy. There WILL be setbacks. Forgive yourself and keep working on it.
Was exercise YOUR New You resolution? It will make you happy, and you can put it into a habit you already have. Web MD had some interesting tips on how to make it a habit.
- Do a variety of exercise. You will probably enjoy it more.
- Do it with a friend. Or meet friend at your fitness centre. The social aspect of exercise can be important too.
- Make it a priority. No excuses. Get there. If you leave after 15 minutes, you still got there. (You probably won’t leave.)
- Exercise first thing in the morning OR
- On your way home. DON’T go home.
- Do it even if you are too tired or don’t feel like it.
- Log your exercise. Write down what you did and how much.
- And keep track of your progress. Do you sleep better? Have more energy? Etc.
Here is the full article from WEB MD “10 Easy Ways To Make Exercise a Habit”
By the way, in case you are interested, my resolution is to find something “happy” in my life and appreciate it every day.
Happy New You!
Staff YWCA Hamilton