Have you ever tried to start a healthy habit but struggled? Do you make New Year’s Resolution only to fail? Are you curious as to how to make a new healthy habit stick beyond the month of January? Writing a goal, while it’s a great idea in theory, does little to help you achieve the goal without planning and setting yourself up for success.
Based on our founder’s rehabilitation experience, psychology and personal experience there are 2 things imperative to successfully start and keep a new healthy habit:
1) Understand yourself
2) Make it easy
While doing only one isn’t mutually exclusive to success, it is true that having both is nearly 100% effective in being successful.
It seems obvious to understand yourself and maybe intuitive that you should actually understand and know yourself well. I mean, you’ve been with yourself for as long as you have been alive. Yet, even with that familiarity, it’s always nice to have something objective to evaluate. In order to start and keep a new habit, it is important to understand how you respond to inward and outward expectations.
Gretchen Rubin, New York Times Bestselling author Better Than Before , developed the four personality tendencies. Each tendency is defined based on how an individual responds to expectations. She defined four of them.
Upholders: respond readily to outer and inner expectations (habit changes tend to be easier for these folks)
Questioners: question all expectations and will meet expectations only if they believe it’s justified (they ask why and require information to make decisions)
Obligers: respond readily to outward expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations (think accountability groups)
Rebels: resist all expectations, outer and inner alike (they aren’t likely to make a resolution and need to feel in control)
When embarking on establishing a new habit, understanding which tendency you are will help you sort out a system that will keep you on track. An upholder tends to be on track as soon as the decision is made, a questioner will need information (sometimes a lot), an obliger may need to join a group or enlist a friend to join them, and the rebel needs to have freedom of choice.
To understand what process you need, it may help to determine your tendency a bit more objectively. Here is the link to the quiz to determine your personal tendency. Your result may surprise you and help you understand why you have or have not been successful in the past.
Make it Easy
Well, of course. If it were easy, you would definitely be able to do it, right? The work needed to make things easier simply requires a bit of thought. For example, in my years as a health coach, I noticed that families whom were trying to eat more wholesome food remained long term successful if, and only if, they had removed the junk food all at once from the home. Why? It is because it made the healthy food choice in the home (where you spend a majority of your time eating) simply easy.
Wendy Wood has discussed this in her book Good Habits, Bad Habits. I listened to her interview on Hidden Brain Podcast discuss the success of developing a new habit is not due to willpower. It is making it easy by setting it up to be self-reinforcing and automatic. As I look back into the healthy food choices, the junk needed to be removed altogether at once so that all that was left was easy, healthy choices.
Sometimes, we at VitaKinetics hear that people forget to take their supplements. It’s important to understand that consistency yields the best results. So in keeping it easy or automatic, tie it to a specific time of day like in the morning with breakfast. If you don’t eat breakfast, then do it with your dinner. Another option is to take it when you brush your teeth after breakfast or dinner. Leaving it on the counter by your toothbrush will help.
On the flip side, if you are trying to break a bad habit and replace it with a new good habit, then it is important to make the bad habit more difficult while the good habit easy. For example, if dark chocolate is your bad habit that you use to stress eat, then make it an effort to get to it. Lock it in a box with a code only your husband knows or have him hide it. This drives a significant amount of attention to the habit you want to break. Habits run on autopilot, so drawing attention to it helps break it. (We can neither confirm nor deny if this tactic was used in our household.)
Being successful in your resolution to improve your health starts with understanding yourself better and doing the work to set it up to make it easy.
Tag us and let us know how you are setting yourself up for success this year.
Eat Well. Move Well. Sleep Well. Connect Well. Supplement Well…..by understanding yourself and making it easy.