Ready to Build New Habits? These 3 Things Will Support Lasting Change
Many of us are striving to improve our lives and building new habits is often a big part of the personal development journey.
Change can be challenging, especially when it comes to making lasting change. It’s a process, and sometimes that process can feel pretty repetitive.
Have you ever gone through the cycle - trying, failing, getting up and trying again – only to make a tentative change that doesn't last beyond the expiration date of the milk in your fridge?
If you answered yes, then you can relate to the excitement and motivation that comes with having a goal that’s shiny and brand new. It gets your time, attention and energy.
As time goes by and the novelty wears off, you begin to encounter the hard, slow slog of working to lock in a new habit. Life happens after all, and that new habit begins to feel like dragging around a 50-pound sack of cement. It wears you down gradually until, at last, a sense of defeat kicks in and the slow backslide begins.
One of the biggest challenges that comes from change is discovering ways to maintain momentum that also support your new habit in a world where it's all too easy to fall back into old ways.
The good news: success leaves clues, and following the path left by others who have successfully reached their goals shows that there are common threads for creating an environment of sustainable change. Read on for three steps to help you develop habits that are made to last.
Build A Strong Foundation: Just like constructing a house, if you build new habits on a weak foundation any stressor that comes along can cause the whole thing to fall apart. Make sure your foundation is able to withstand the inevitable challenges that life throws your way. Think of it as an investment in yourself.
- Understand your motivation for making the change in the first place. Maybe you want to start a business, get back to them gym, or begin a healthy eating habit – that’s the “what” part of the equation. Your motivation is the “Why” behind the what. To go deeper ask yourself, what will you gain once the change takes place? How will your life be different once you make the change and stick with it?
- Unpack your baggage: What other behaviors or habits could get in the way of your change? Some examples of this type of baggage include lack of confidence in your ability to make the change, procrastination, staying stuck in the past, giving in to distractions, or any other pattern that could slow your progress.
- Have a daily focus practice: Meditation, vision boards, and affirmations are just a few ways to help sharpen the mind and refine your focus.
Build a Support System: A support system can make a big difference when it comes to making lasting change. Most people who successfully build new habits chose to surround themselves with three types of people:
- Supportive friends and family members who are willing to be your biggest cheerleaders. These are your go-to contacts for emotional support, encouragement and an occasional kick in the butt when you feel like you're losing motivation. Let the people in your life know about the change you’re trying to make. Choose an accountability buddy from this group.
- Successful mentors. There's a saying that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I always liked this idea, but it really hit home when I began really paying attention to the people I chose as mentors. One of my biggest "A-Ha" moments was the realization that vastly successful people are not really that different from the rest of us – but they do have a different set of habits. Suddenly that level of success felt real and possible. Having these people in my life was one of the biggest factors in my own turnaround story. Once I understood that people enjoying high levels of success also faced challenges I grew more confident, knowing I could potentially reach the same level.
- Community: Expand your network by connecting with new people. Seek out and join a club, charity, or group that aligns with your interests and goals. Research shows the benefits of having a strong community including the ability to share knowledge and experiences, as well as get advice from someone who has been where you are. Community connection rounds out and diversifies your support system.
Maintain your energy: When you run out of energy, your willpower is usually the next thing to go. Taking care of your mind, body and spirit can help you avoid falling off an energetic cliff. Keep your energy up in these areas to successfully support you new habit:
- Care for your mind: A positive mindset can go a long way to helping support long-lasting success when it comes to new habits. Feed your mind with the things that will keep you moving forward. A good place to start is with books, podcasts, and blogs to inspire and motivate.
- Care for your body: Nutrition, rest, and exercise are energy essentials. Change becomes even more challenging when you’re combatting energy crashes, brain fog, or anxiety. Choose healthy foods, take vitamin supplements, and have a daily exercise routine to balance your energy. A Healthy diet and exercise can also help improve your quality of sleep.
- Care for your spiritual side: When you’re making change, distractions can pop up at any time. The ability to focus on your spiritual side can help remind you of your purpose. Make time to take a walk, change your scenery and be mindful. Meditation, time in nature, and breaks from screen time can help feed your spirit.
Lasting change is absolutely possible, especially when you use the tools at hand to help get you there. And remember, you've got this.
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