Personal Trainer’s Recommendation
Step #1: Focus on One New Habit
As a personal trainer in Mississauga, I will tell you that the biggest topic you need to understand is ego depletion and how it holds you back. Ego depletion is “a person’s diminished capacity to regulate their thoughts, feelings and actions”. It impacts our ability to form new habits because our supply of willpower is spread out among all the areas of our lives. Because of this, it’s important to work on only one habit at a time.
That way, your store of willpower can be channeled into completing that one habit, increasing the odds of success.
So the question is: “What one new habit do you want to form?”
Identify it now and learn everything you can about how to do it right. Become an expert in this activity and do a deep dive on every content related to getting started.
For instance, one of my main habits is exercising in the morning. This is something that I do every day.
The important point thing here is to identify a habit you can do all the time, something that will fit into your life and can be completed on a daily basis, even when you don’t feel like it.
Step #2: Form a new habit? Commit for a MINIMUM of 30 days.
Some people say it takes 21 days to build a habit, while others claim it takes more time. The truth is that the length of time really varies from person to person and habit to habit. You’ll find that some habits are easy to build while others require more effort. My advice is to commit to a specific habit for the next 30 days (or a month to keep it simple).
Step #3: Anchor Your New Habit to an Established Habit
A habit shouldn’t be based upon motivation, fads, or temporary desire. Rather, it should be instilled in your life to the point it becomes habitual. This often means you do not need a sophisticate series of steps—just something you can commit to day in and day out… FOREVER.
One way to do this is to commit to a very small habit change and take baby steps as you build on it. An important aspect of his teaching is to “anchor” the new habit to something you already do on a daily basis.
- “After I get home from work, I will change into my workout clothes and go to the gym.”
- “After brushing my teeth at night, I will write down everything that I ate for the day.”
Step #4: Take Baby Steps
The key to habit developing is to make micro-commitments and focus on small wins. The danger of relying on motivation alone to form a new habit is that you don’t have a backup plan for when you’re not in the mood. Really, the only way to make a habit stick is to turn it into automatic behavior. You can do this by taking baby steps and creating a low level of commitment.
The idea here is to create a micro-commitment where it’s impossible to fail. It’s more important to stay consistent and not miss a day than it is to hit a specific milestone. What you’ll find is that when you have a low level of commitment, you’ll be more likely to get started.
Step #5: Make a Plan for Obstacles
Every new habit will have obstacles. When you know in advance what your obstacles are, you can take preventative action to overcome them.
Prepare and anticipate that these obstacles will come. Then, you won’t be blindsided by them. Use “If-Then Planning” statements to plan ahead. Some examples of these powerful “If-Then” statements include:
- “If I check the weather and it’s raining, then I will work out at the gym instead.”
- “If I don’t have time for my project at the end of the day, I will start to wake up 30 minutes and work on it before anything else.”
- “If I have a really bad day at work and don’t feel like working out, I will still walk briskly for at least 15 minutes.”
Step #6: Create Accountability for Your Habit
Track your efforts and make public declarations about your new habit. According to the lessons learned from the Hawthorne effect, you’re more likely to follow through with a commitment when you’re being observed by others. To stick with this new routine, you should let others know about your efforts and goals.
Post updates on social media accounts, use apps like Chains and Coach.me to track your progress, work with an accountability partner, or post regular updates to an online community related to the habit. Do whatever it takes to get reinforcement from others in support of your new routine.
Step #7: Reward Important Milestones
A new habit doesn’t have to be boring. Focus on building a reward system into the process so you can take time to celebrate the successful completion of your goals. The reward you pick is up to you, but it’s important to celebrate those big moments along the way. Keep in mind, a reward doesn’t have to break the bank.
You could check out a new movie, enjoy a night out with your significant other, or simply do something you love. We tend to underestimate the importance of having “fun” while building habits. Often, though, having a clear reward for regularly completing an action will help you to stick to the new routine.
Step #8: Build a New Identity
Repeating a habit on a daily basis will only get you so far. You can do a lot by committing to a small action, doing it every day, increasing the effort over time and overcoming obstacles. But at some point, you need to go from simply doing it every day to making it a part of your core identity. Only then will you stick to it without the constant need for reinforcement. The idea here is that you can build a lasting habit by making it a reflection of who you are on the inside.
Simply put, you need to believe the habit is part of what makes YOU a unique person. It’s better to decide that the habit is simply part of your identity and then use each “small win” as a way to demonstrate that it’s who you are on the inside. With a new habit, reinforce this behavior by saying things like: “I’m the type of person who regularly enjoys the ___ type of exercise”. Then, follow through by doing it on a daily basis. Eventually, your internal identity will match this daily routine.