How to Build Lasting Habits
How do we build lasting habits into our life that replace current unhealthy habits with desired new habits? According to the predominant thinking it takes about 21 days to build a new habit. I agree and disagree with this number. I agree that if you do the same thing for three weeks straight yes it will become a new part of your life. I disagree that it is that simple.
Letting go is hard to do. It takes a real shift in mindset. You must decide if your “why” is strong enough to make you really want to let go of a habit you feel is unhealthy. We develop habits throughout our lives and sometimes these habits come and go; sometimes they go away only to pop back up to cause issues again. Sometimes we can let go of them for good with little to no remorse. I feel that getting rid of bad habits may be more difficult than developing new ones.
I truly believe that forming new habits and making them stick requires you to give yourself a little grace and forgiveness. We are often our own worst critics and on top of that our culture has drilled into us that if you make one misstep its over and you might as well give up. Negative ghost- rider, that pattern is full. As you make small changes, such as drinking more water or eating less processed food, you will have moments that are less than stellar. These moments are NOT failure and DO NOT ruin everything. You may not use them as an excuse to give up and walk away. Nope. Sorry, not happening. What you need to do is give yourself a bit of grace. If you have a moment that makes you say to yourself “why in the hell did I eat that?” then take notice that you feel that way afterwards, be present in that moment. Then forgive yourself and move on. Do not use it as an excuse. You know the path you need to be on, or if you feel lost reach out and ask directions. Get right back on the path. Do not punish yourself, or mentally beat yourself up over it. You didn’t drink enough water today? Ok take note and fill your glass. Ate a pint of ice-cream? Ok, take note and know it was a treat and don’t do it again for a while, simply go back to eating in a healthy manner.
So yes if you want to build new habits it takes work and perseverance, but it also takes grace and forgiveness. Nothing worth having or doing comes easy and healthy eating, exercise, and self care are part of that. Schedule your fitness into your day, like any other important appointment and do not skip it. Plan your meals ahead so there’s less excuse for take out at the last minute. Put the work in, give yourself grace and the results will come. You did not get where you are in a week or 30 days, it took a while of ignoring yourself and your health to get there. Being accountable is also important. Reach out to friends who also are building habits and keep each other accountable. Most of all know that you can do this. Look at all the amazing things you have accomplished already and know that YOU CAN DO THIS!