how to make good habits stick

How to Make Good Habits Stick

There can be a great deal of focus on breaking habits but what about making positive changes? In this post I share some tips for how to make good habits stick.

How to Make Good Habits Stick?

From Sofa to Spandex – one woman’s journey!

My home was a spandex-free zone. Especially purple spandex, even when it looks good on others, for me that had always felt like a step too far! My indoor trainers dated back to the 1980’s and the days of fluorescent leg warmers. Those valiant Nikes collapsed with good grace after the first few Zumba classes, heralding a new era of trainers here at Chantry Health!

As my practice has grown busier, time to exercise has been thin on the ground. I am sure many people with busy lives can relate to this. I embarked upon making some changes. And it has been great fun discovering the myriad ways to improve my fitness. And as a practitioner I can share some tips on how to make good habits stick in case it helps you on your journey.

Try Different Things!

make habits stickIf you can give yourself permission to experiment it can really help. Try out different things with a sense of curiosity. Often we have a preconceived idea of what we can and can’t do.

A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open – Frank Zappa

As you explore notice how you respond. What did you enjoy? What helps you towards your goal? Do you do better with activities at fixed times or free-floating? Groups or solo? Indoors or outdoors? With music or quiet? Are you happiest focusing on one thing or do you like variety?

Often we make decisions based on what we are used to doing, even if that framework is out of date. Or not giving us the results we want. Now is a great time to update and find out what works for you.

A Good Sense of Humour Helps Too!

Take your goals seriously but not yourself. Enjoy learning! Trying something new means you will probably find elements of it confusing or hard work. By definition that means you are learning and developing. We have an expression in NLP which is that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. Now sometimes you can feel you are in a very feedback rich environment. But if you can see it as information to guide you towards what you really want to achieve, that can help.

How to Make Good Habits Stick – Be Realistic!

make habits stick 2In the spirit of experimentation and finding what works for me I have been exploring a range of exercise avenues. I have to confess I hugely underestimated how tricky skipping is. After all we skipped in the school playground – how hard could it be? Knowing it is a very flexible and time-efficient way to exercise I bought my jump rope and watched Jump Rope videos with Rushie who makes it look so effortlessly graceful. I visualised myself doing cross-overs and side swings, it looks such fun. It also looks much easier than it is! Having managed a very few skips before becoming entangled, I realised I need to practice, a lot!

Take it One Step at a Time

So that would make it a very short class, but do build up gradually. If you are making major changes, have a health condition or injuries make sure you talk to your GP or health practitioner first. And let you instructor know if you are in the gym or an exercise class.

This also ties in with being realistic. Every journey begins with the first step. Better to do what you can and build on that. Not getting too caught up with the days where it doesn’t quite happen. Just gradually moving forwards. One step or skip at a time!

Keep Tracking Your Progress

make habits stick 3Whatever changes you are working to make happen it can help to keep a record of how you are doing. Having a visual prompt and a way to keep checking in with yourself. Most real change happens over time. To begin with, or when you feel you are in a plateau it can give you a boost to remind yourself what you have achieved so far.

And look at a range of indicators that you are moving forwards. Take weight loss as an example. It can be soul destroying just to measure kilos. Or for those of us who remember fluorescent leg warmers, pounds! Measure yourself in those strategic places or track your dress size. How do your clothes feel as your body changes shape? And how does your body feel – do you have more energy?

If you find extra information useful as a way to keep track you can use scales at the gym or home that give you a breakdown of your percentage body muscle, body fat, hydration, etc. It turns out I was 87% tea and cake!

As you track yourself you can consider what is working. Are your exercise and dietary changes helping you? Remember that lasting change comes from updating how you live. Eating healthily as well as building in exercise in a way that you can sustain. Otherwise you may reach your goal and then fall back into old habits. Hey presto the cycle beings again!

Updating Your Sense of Who You Are

If you had previously suggested that I could sign up for a yoga class I would have explained that I don’t wear spandex and am not a bendy-stretchy person. But I was up for Zumba! And have thoroughly enjoyed Louise’s Zumba classes. Comparatively quickly I found my fitness, coordination and balance improving. Now don’t misunderstand me, I won’t be getting a call from The Royal Ballet just yet. But this meant I was up for trying other types of classes too. And then I am not quite sure how it happened, but when Louise was talking about her new Rhythm Yoga class I signed up. And I am really enjoying that too!

Below is The Happiness Flow yoga video with Louise. There are many health benefits to yoga, on every level. Not only is it good for our physical health, yoga helps our mental functioning and emotional wellbeing.

Each of the classes is supporting my health and fitness in different ways. Complementing each other. It is early days for the bendy-stretchiness. But I now have some spandex, although not in purple…yet. One step at a time!

Good Goals Can Help Make Good Habits Stick

There is an art and science to setting goals. It can make a real difference in helping you achieve them as well as enjoying the journey. I have written many blogs about this including “Can New Year’s Resolutions Work?” on page 16 of BIG magazine. You can read some more easy pointers for goal setting in my Life Coaching Checklist.

You can also read about and listen to my BBC Radio Sussex interview on Help Breaking Habits and Help Changing Habits – Your 7 Point Checklist.

Get Support & Advice

Team up with friends if it helps you to keep on track. Talk to people who are doing what you wish to achieve. Listen to other people’s positive experiences to help fuel your enthusiasm.

If you are doing classes find ones that you actively enjoy going to. And where the instructor is friendly, inclusive and engaged with helping everyone. My experience is that a quick chat with a class instructor can also help you choose the right kit and save money by not buying the wrong things.

Number One Tip for How to Make Good Habits Stick

I would suggest that you find things that you enjoy. Whether it is exercise or in any other area of life. Not only is it a shame not to enjoy as much of your life as is possible, but the fun will also carry you on the days when it is a struggle. Whether it is Zumba, Yoga, Running, Walking or any of the many different ways to get moving, having fun is a wonderful way to boost motivation and to propel you towards your achieving goals.

I have been talking about supporting a mindset that can build in more exercise here, but the principles translate to other areas of life. Sometimes your mindset can be the key that unlocks the door to better health and happiness. Obviously the purple spandex is optional!

I offer Hypnotherapy, NLP and Coaching, and practice from clinics in Lewes in East Sussex, and near Horsham and Billingshurst in West Sussex. If you are not within reach of these clinics I also offer appointments via Skype. Please do contact me if you would like a free mini-appointment to see if my approach to supporting health, well-being and personal development might suit you – thank you.