What a year this has shaped up to be – disruption and challenge at every turn! It’s hard enough to maintain status quo, let alone keep on on positive habits. But there are little things you can do, even in a socially distanced world and mad world, so keep reading.
As a kid, you can’t wait to grow up and be able to do what you want, when you want. Stay up late, get into an R-rated movie, walk to the corner store alone, eat dessert for dinner, and all the other ‘cool’ things that adults get to do.
As an adult, you can certainly do all these things but you also have to pay taxes, go grocery shopping, walk the dog, feed the family, tend to the house, the yard, and more. If that weren’t enough, there are other things we know we should to do to live a healthy well-rounded life. Things like eating right, getting 8 hours of sleep, drinking lots of water, saving for retirement (and emergencies), exercising, tending to our spiritual side, and helping others. Let’s be honest, being an adult is tough.
Finding motivation to stick to those healthy habits is a huge challenge for most of us but there are some things you can do to get motivated and stay on track with your healthy habits. I use several of these tips and tricks when I find my motivation flagging.
- Make a list of the habits that you want to embed into your life – Spend sometime with yourself to determine the following: What do you want from life? What can you cultivate that will bring you more joy and more fulfillment? This is a key step to the process. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? Here are some habits to consider:
- Wake up earlier – This is a secret of success touted by many famous self-help gurus as a way to get critical to-dos done before the world wakes up. And, you know, I am going to advise you to avoid your phone for the first hour. Use this extra time to read, write in your journal, take a walk, or something else that INVESTS IN YOU.
- Eat healthier – From cutting calories to eliminating processed foods we know the importance of eating right. Having a clean diet is a great way to increase energy, sleep better, and a key component in reaching physical goals. Plan your meals, cook from scratch using whole ingredients and consider what you are putting in your mouth. Stress eating can happen to anyone, but with a plan you can avoid mindlessly eating junk or over-consuming.
- Increase your fitness – These days it is less about being a certain size and more about being fit with a low body mass index. There is so much scientific evidence as to the benefits on heart health and low LDL cholesterol that this habit should be at the top of your list. A moderate walk is accessible to almost anyone and if you can’t do that, check out online resources for chair workouts, stretches, or something else. Even if you are just doing laps in your living room, movement is key.
- Save more money – From setting up an emergency fund to creating a long-term strategy, saving money is a habit that escapes most of us. The peace of mind that comes from having your financial act together is worth more than a bag full of gold bars. Start saving what you can, even if it’s pennies from the floor of your car or under the couch cushions.
- Learn something new – When we ask our brains to learn something new, we can actually increase our brain mass. To those over a certain age, developing neuroplasticity may be a way to stave off dementia. Additional benefits are the new social connections we make at a class, the freshness of our capability repertoire as they relate to our jobs, and the fun at mastering a new skill.
- Meditate/Pray/Reflect – Having a sense of something greater than ourselves is key to a fulfilled life. Whether you belive in god, the Universe, the Great Spaghetti Monster, or nothing at all, examining your place in the world through meditation/reflection is beneficial to development of empathy, which benefits everyone.
- Write something daily – Journaling is great for self-reflection, goal planning, honing creativity, and working through any big emotions. The act of writing something on paper helps make it real. Whether you keep a typical diary or use Sketchnoting, a practice of journaling is an easy entry point to improving your life.
2. BUT, do you really want this? It is critical to remember, if it’s not important enough to you, you are not ready. A great example of this is trying to lose weight. If you have tried to lose weight in the past and didn’t reach your goal or couldn’t maintain it, ask yourself why. If you struggle to control something in your power, it may be that it is not important enough to you. Think about that. When it becomes important to you, you will find a way, no matter how hard.
3. Visualize your future – The experts state that visualizing the future you want is a powerful way to reset your frequency, to change your mindset, and to help you realize your goals. Visualizing is as easy as taking a moment to close your eyes and imagine how your future will look when you (insert daily habit or long-term goal here). When you have your morning coffee, take a moment to close your eyes and visualize the future you: You with more energy from a clean diet; You with more leisure time because you cut out the non-value add activities; You with more peace of mind because you’ve been able to reduce your credit card debt. Try visualizing short-, near-, and long-term goals and then, to really blow the doors off this exercise WRITE THEM DOWN!
4. Make a plan – How will you make time for your habits? The biggest trick is to put time on your calendar. If you schedule the habit, you increase your chances of getting it done. Here are some more thoughts that may help you make your plan.
- If your habit it working out, can you find 20 minutes in the morning before the household wakes up? Maybe you only have time to walk at lunch, that’s great! It puts you one step closer to your goal (pun intended).
- If your goal is to save money, block out 15 minutes a couple times a week to check your account balances, track your spending, and pay a little on a credit card (even $20 makes a dent).
- If your goal is to eat clean, can you find time for meal prep during the weekend?
- If your goal is to cultivate spirituality, can you spend 10 minutes a day on inner reflection and expressions of gratitude? For the severely timebound or those struggling with journaling, check out the 5-Minute Journal app.
5. Reframe your thoughts – My grandmother had a saying for her worry-wort little granddaughter (that would be me), “Don’t borrow trouble”. Worrying about what could go wrong, anticipating the ‘what-if’s can derail you. Rather than dwell on the negative, fix your thoughts on the positive. Reframe those negative thoughts. This isn’t to say you should avoid reality in favor of fantasy – there is a difference between realism and nihilism. It all goes back to visualizing what you want. It takes practice if you are already wired to pessimism, but you can do it, I believe in you!
- Instead of “I’ll never be able to make it 2 weeks with a clean eating plan.” Tell yourself, “I am excited to see my 2-week progress of clean eating”.
- Instead of “How do I save money when I don’t have any to save?” think to yourself “How can I reduce my spending?”
6. Commit to yourself – I love the advice given during an airplane safety briefing where they tell you to put your oxygen mask on before helping others. This is a perfect illustration of YOUR importance. Or as I say “You aren’t any good to others if you aren’t good to yourself” (trademark pending 😀 ). When it comes to habits, you have to commit to yourself! If you struggle to do that, see item number 1 and don’t beat yourself up about it, but take a hard look at your motivation. Do you want to set healthy habits for yourself or because you think it is what someone else wants of you? When you find the fire behind your personal motivation, you will find the commitment.
Find an inspiration ‘tribe’ – Experts agree that surrounding yourself with positive personal influences and removing the negative people from your life go a long way in helping you stick with healthy habits. Find a walking group, an online yoga class, an accountability partner (I know a really good coach 😉) – anyone who can give you encouragement, challenge you, and check in to be sure you are on track.
Take a break – If you fail or fall off the wagon of a habit, give yourself a break. Maybe your work schedule got in the way in an unavoidable way, maybe you got sick and needed rest more than you needed to write in your journal, maybe you just need a break. Take your break but be sure identify the reason for the gap and examine what you can do to avoid this happening again. Also, be sure to build in ‘cheat days‘, another proven way to stick to your plan. The day where you don’t work out, enjoy some junk food (in moderation), and just lounge around can be great to reset, rejuvenate, and renew for the week ahead.
Just do it – Finally, remember that consistent actions and small steps, taken each day, lead to embedded habits and those habits can deliver a myriad of benefits to every aspect of your life.
Let me know what I missed or if you’ve tried any of these and be sure to share your tips on how to stay motivated. Thanks for stopping by!