Here are three habit hacks to start you off on your journey of exploring the power of habits.
1. Set a Trigger
Behaviours are actions that you consciously think about and decide on, like what to have for dinner, or what to wear to work. Habits, on the other hand, are subconscious and mindless. Habits are enacted when they are triggered – and that trigger can be the time of day, the place you’re in, or the action that you just did. For example, 12:00pm triggers the habit of eating lunch; sitting in your car triggers the habit of putting on your seatbelt; and your morning routine triggers the habit of brushing your teeth! So hack number one for changing your habits is to set a trigger for the habits you want to create.
Physical activity example:
If your goal is to go for a daily walk, for example, instead of saying, ‘I’m going to walk for 30-minutes a day’, you could change it to ‘at 7:00am, I’m going to go for a 30-minute walk’. With repetition, 7:00am will automatically trigger your new walking habit and you won’t have to consciously think about doing it.
If your goal is to eat fruit daily, instead of saying ‘I’m going to eat a piece of fruit a day’, it could become ‘when I’m having breakfast, I will eat a piece of fruit’. Over time, and with repetition, having breakfast will automatically trigger your new habit of eating fruit, and it will just happen as if on autopilot.
2. Small changes make BIG differences
Numerous studies show that large or complex changes are not only more difficult to achieve, but they are more difficult to sustain, compared with small, simple changes. Creating tiny habits adds up to lifestyle changes much more effectively than trying to create big changes.
Physical activity example:
Instead of setting a goal to walk 10,000 steps per day (which may be beneficial to your health, but is rarely achieved if you’re starting from sedentary!) set a goal to ‘increase daily steps taken when walking’, then build on your step count each week or month.
If your goal is to increase your veggie intake, instead of starting with a goal of ‘eating 5 serves of vegetables a day’ (which may be the recommendation, but is challenging to achieve if it’s not already a habit), you could start with ‘I’m going to increase my veggie serve with dinner by ½ a cup’. Then build on your veggie serves each week or month.
Consistency is the secret sauce to forming new habits (it’s all about consistency, not intensity!). There’s a quote I love by Richard Scott that says:
‘We become what we want to be, by consistently being what we want to become each day.’
3. Keep accountable
External accountability is essential for habit change, and research shows that it doubles your chances of achieving your goals. So, regularly check in with friends, family, coaches, and health professionals, and use a Habit Tracker to really help cement your new habits into your daily lifestyle.