Making Habits Work For You

Run towards things, not away from them

I feel good. I’m into the second half of my life and I don’t think I’ve ever felt as good as I do now.

Is it because I’m lucky? Sure, that probably has something to do with it.

But I also work at it.

Six days a week, I wake up early and exercise. Every week, week after week, even when I don’t feel like it. Because after I’m finished, I always feel fantastic.

A few years ago I made a decision that I wanted to be fit, to have lots of energy, and to feel good about myself. At the time I was 20 pounds overweight, sluggish, and not sleeping well.

So I started a morning fitness routine. At first it was running, then I got into yoga, and now I am big on strength training.

My workouts have changed, but the working out part hasn’t. I don’t even think about it anymore – I literally climb out of bed right into my workout clothes.

I’ve come to recognize that the most important thing to do is develop good habits. Since we spend most of our lives on autopilot, it’s important that your habits take you in the direction you want to go.

Developing good habits gets you away from having to argue with yourself. Remember, the part of you that wants to change old behaviours will never win, especially at 6:00 in the morning! You have to consciously outsmart your old habits, because they are comfortable and friendly and crafty.

They will try to beat you every time.

To defeat and replace them, you need to make it easy on yourself. Get clear about why you want to change, make your reason extremely important to you, and then prepare a plan in advance. Put the gym clothes beside the bed. Move your alarm clock into another room. Fill the fridge with healthy food.

Outwit, outsmart, and outmaneuver the little you who doesn’t like change.

Five Ways to Make Your Habits Work For You

  1. Make a Decision – Every act has to start with a decision. By getting clear with what you want, it is much easier to take action.
  2. Start Small – It’s nice to want to change everything in one day, but we all know these changes seldom last. Just think how effective New Year’s resolutions are! By making one small change at a time, you are much more likely to stick with it.
  3. Check In – Be honest with where you are and how committed you feel. Remember that you are completely in charge of this. Hold yourself accountable and have strong reasons for why the change is important to you.
  4. Commit For a Specific Time Frame – Make it at least 30 days. Research shows that this is often long enough for most people to make changes that stick.
  5. Reward Yourself – Having something to look forward to that is a direct result of your new habit is important. Most people respond much better to positive encouragement rather than negative reinforcement.

Make it easy to succeed. Pick a change that is very important to you, but isn’t the thing that frightens you the most. Once you get the hang of it, the bigger changes won’t seem so impossible!

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