The beginning of a new year is often considered the beginning of a new chapter in our lives, which is why a lot of people like to make a new year’s resolution list full of goals to achieve in this new chapter. From fitness goals to lifestyle changes and even picking up new hobbies, everyone has their own thing!
However, more often than not people rely on motivation to achieve these goals and don’t have a strong support base to fall on when that fleeting motivation disappears, which is why developing and maintaining good habits is so important.
In this article, we’ll give you a few tips for building healthy habits that will help you stick to and achieve any goals you set your mind to. But first, let’s talk a little bit more about the importance of having healthy habits!
Why are healthy habits important?
When it comes to sticking to your goals, whether they’re part of your resolutions list or not, the absolute best thing you can do is create healthy habits that support those goals and your lifestyle in general. Even if you don’t have any specific goals and just want to lead a healthy life, good habits will help you make that happen.
Habits are just behaviors that you frequently do without thinking, so by developing good habits you’ll find it easier to repeat healthy actions that will improve your quality of life and help you get closer to your goals. It’s a great way to gain a sense of control over your life and feel accomplished in the process.
On top of that, healthy habits are empowering and give you the motivation that, while not long-lasting, can still help you stay on track with your goals and your healthy lifestyle. So, no matter what your goals are or if you don’t have any specific ones at the moment, you could always benefit from building good habits!
Tips for building healthy habits
If one of your new year’s resolutions is building healthier habits in some or all aspects of your life, here are some effective tips so you can achieve it:
Identify why you want to build certain habits
Knowing why you want or need to build certain healthy habits is key when it comes to sticking to them long-term. Committing to developing new habits is easier when you understand the end goal because you’re aware that it’s all part of something bigger that’s worth all the struggle!
Maybe you want to develop certain habits because they’re going to improve your life in various aspects, like meal planning and prepping, or you need to develop them for health reasons, like limiting foods that aren’t heart-friendly or doing physical activity every day.
As a rule of thumb, don't pick habits you hate unless you absolutely need to develop that specific habit. This will only make it harder for you to stick to them and it might cause you to quit halfway through when you could’ve been developing a habit that’s actually relevant and beneficial to your lifestyle instead.
Replace bad habits with healthy versions of them
This one is definitely easier said than done since habits are habits for a reason! But a good step forward in the direction of healthy habits is taking bad habits you already have and replacing them with healthy ones, instead of building an entirely new habit from scratch.
For example, let’s take a common unhealthy eating habit such as constantly snacking. Snacking on its own isn’t harmful, but doing so frequently and with junk foods or pastries can impact your health in many ways, such as having more way sugar than you should and experiencing unwanted weight gain.
A great way to replace this habit is by changing what you eat. Instead of a bag of chips, make a healthy food swap and munch on some trail mix or a bowl of fresh fruit. While this doesn’t take care of the constant snacking problem, at least you don’t need to worry about what you’re eating. You can then try to reduce the frequency – but one step at a time!
Keep it slow but constant at first
The key to building any kind of habit is to take it easy at first. You can’t expect to be able to go on a run around the park every day if you’re not used to doing cardio that frequently, but what you can do is try to take a walk every day!
By aiming for the stars from the very beginning you’re just setting yourself up for failure, which is why you need to take it little by little and develop each new habit gradually. It’s completely okay to make progress slowly as long as you’re still working on it constantly.
As a general rule when developing new habits, particularly those that involve physical activity, know that missing a day is okay because you deserve to rest both physically and mentally, but never miss two days in a row! Long breaks when you haven’t fully developed new habits are a recipe for failure, so try to avoid them at all costs.
Pair new habits with things you enjoy
One of the best things you can do when developing completely new habits, particularly those that you’re not exactly looking forward to, is to pair them with activities that you already enjoy.
Let’s say you’re trying to cook at home more often instead of eating out every day of the week. If you’re not a fan of cooking, this might be a daunting task for you, and trying to turn it into a habit will be difficult. Instead of getting into the kitchen and just pushing through it, you can listen to some of your favorite music while you do it!
Maybe you’re a fan of podcasts or have a comfort show that you can put in the background without having to pay full attention to it. Anything that makes the experience more enjoyable for you is valid, just make sure to not burn anything!
Develop a schedule and follow it
Nothing beats a schedule when it comes to building and sticking to new habits! And it doesn’t need to be a complex program with specific times and 100 things to do in a day – that would only make matters more difficult. As we previously said, you need to take it easy when it comes to new habits, and that applies to daily schedules too.
If doing yoga is something that you want to make a habit of because you enjoy it and it improves your quality of life, instead of assigning a specific time of the day to do it, write down when you prefer doing yoga, such as “do yoga sometime in the morning” or “do yoga before going to bed”.
This will help keep it in mind without too much pressure, and you can get stricter as time goes by until it becomes an actual habit. But until then, keep things light!
Reduce the steps needed for certain habits
While you might be more than willing to try and develop a new habit, sometimes time and other factors can make it more challenging than you hoped for. If you feel like a certain habit that you want or need isn’t as simple to build as it seemed at first, try reducing the steps to achieve it.
For example, let’s say your goal is to drink more water and stay hydrated this new year. Reducing the steps for this kind of habit could be something like keeping a big bottle of water with you at all times instead of having to make a trip to the kitchen every time you need some. This includes keeping it on your nightstand and taking it with you to the car!
Set yourself up for success this new year with healthy habitsBuilding good habits will make your life easier, especially if you have fitness goals that you want to achieve. But even if you don’t have any specific goals, healthy habits can help improve your life in all kinds of aspects, such as your mental and physical health, self-esteem, productivity, and even relationships – so give these tips a try!