When it comes to embracing a life of healthy habits, forget willpower or having to ‘stick’ to anything. It’s all about finding your why…and rigging your environment!
Discover your trigger, behaviour and reward
Figure out these three things, and then set your home or work space up, so that your trigger is always visible if it is a positive thing, or hidden if it’s for negative behaviour such as eating lots of biscuits in the afternoon.
For instance, when it comes to running, or working out regularly, your trigger could be a training plan pasted to your fridge door, or emailed to you daily if you’re following a training plan from Girls Run the World, the behaviour, going out for a run and the reward, feeling pumped full of feel-good endorphins when you get home. As the old adage goes, you never regret a run.
For behaviour you want to avoid, bury the trigger (chocolate on top of the cupboard, right towards the back), make it difficult to create the behaviour – don’t buy the crisps and wine, so you’ve got to drive to the supermarket to get them. And sit with the feeling of ‘ugh’ if you do eat a tub of ice cream.
For things you like doing, make it easier to do them, for things you want to stop doing, make the triggers and behaviours harder to perform. Ergo, no will power required!
Design your environment for good behaviour
Relying on willpower alone to start running or to eat healthily is always going to be hard; having to resist temptation will just drain your energy.
Instead, remove temptations and rig your home to encourage healthy behaviour. For example, if you always find it hard to switch off, buy an alarm clock and leave your phone out of the bedroom so you’re not tempted to scroll.
If you’ve got to get up early for a run, pre-pack everything you might need, including your running shoes so there is nothing that will get in the way of allowing your brain to say, ‘I haven’t got time now I’ve got to find my running socks, at the bottom of the laundry basket.’
Become part of a community
It’s not just your environment that affects your behaviour but those in it, whether that’s online or real world. Seeing other people doing the things you want to do, help inspires you and it holds you accountable.
It’s why our online 30 day challenges are so effective, because you set yourself a target to follow a workout or run every day for 30 days along with a community of other women. The consistency of doing something everyday creates the behaviour, while seeing others sharing their daily workouts keeps you accountable.
Set a goal that inspires but doesn’t terrify
Consistency is the easiest way of building good habits, little things done every day rather than one massive big goal. With each mini-daily goal achieved, you build your confidence and behavioural norm.
Be kind to yourself
Don’t get us wrong, if you’re the kind of person who often gives up on something with the refrain, ‘Oh, it just wasn’t for me,’ or ‘Now is not the right time,’ building healthy habits or sticking to a running programme is never going to work. On the flip-side, being overly critical or harsh is not great either.
Instead, recognise that sometimes, things get in the way in life; that doesn’t mean giving up, it just means recognising that it’s a tiny bump in the road but the trail still continues ahead and you can keep on following that direction, one footstep after the other.
To help you build your healthy habits, join Girls Run the World Runuary 2020 challenge. Running a tiny bit every day of January, irrespective of distance, has created hugely positive change and habits for the 2,500 women who have taken part in previous years. (Read more here).