So far, nearly everyone I spoke to in the last few days, brought up the topic of a New Year Resolution. January 1 is traditionally a time of self-reflection. One thinks about what improvements need to be made and sometimes reflect on what we have achieved along the way.
Last year I heard an interesting interview with Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, on CBC, and did a lot of thinking on making habits. This book is available at the Hamilton Library, and is also available as an audio book.
Duhigg decided he needed to understand HOW habits work. First every habit has a cue, something that triggers a routine. The cue could be a location, a time of day, emotional state, people or a pattern of behavior that triggers the routine.
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 often without thinking. Duhigg found that habits and routines can be changed easier than actually creating a new habit.
#1. It is easier to modify a habit than to create a new one.
Is getting more exercise one of your new year’s resolutions? Can you modify your “going home” routine to include a stop at the gym? Put it in your calendar as a “meeting”. Pack your bag, snack and water bottle the night before. Keep the packed bag in the car. Do not go home! Go to the gym for 15 – 20 minutes. Modify your “go home” routine to include the short stop at the gym. With repetition and self-reward (you feel good, sense of accomplishment, less tired, elevated mood) that 15 minutes will become 30 minutes.
After work, I would pack up my bag and go home. I thought I could go to the gym after dinner. But I almost never did. It was difficult to leave again after arriving home as there was always something needed doing. So I changed my routine, left work on time. I didn’t dawdle or go to the store and went to the gym before going home. It took time. I sometimes was rushed at the gym. I sometimes missed the class. But I eventually included it into my daily routine.
#2 Focus on ONE habit at a time. Make exercise your January habit. In February, add your next habit.
#3 The last hint is to not “throw in the towel”. Creating a new habit or routine is not easy. There WILL be setbacks. Forgive yourself and keep working on it.
Is getting more 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.
1. Do a variety of exercise. You will probably enjoy it more.
2. Do it with a friend. Or meet friend at your fitness centre. The social aspect of exercise can be important too.
3. Make it a priority. No excuses. Get there. If you leave after 15 minutes, you still got there. (You probably won’t leave.)
4. Exercise first thing in the morning OR
5. On your way home. DON’T go home.
6. Do it even if you are too tired or don’t feel like it.
7. Log your exercise. Write down what you did and how much.
8. 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”
Happy New You!
Staff YWCA Hamilton