Written by Katie Lowe (BA, GradDipPosPsych)
Have you ever procrastinated about getting started on that new health and wellbeing goal?
Have you waited eagerly for that surge of motivation to hit and fill you with bursts of energy and positivity to get going?
I’m going to suggest you have done both, because I know I have!
I have some bad news, motivation doesn’t just show up L it has to be cultivated and built upon. In other words, motivation comes through action.
That initial burst that gets you started is usually based on willpower, which is sadly flawed and often short-lived. I’m sure everyone has experienced that surge of motivation when you’ve finally made the decision to start going to that gym class each week, eat cleaner, start food prepping, or walking every morning before work. You might go out and buy all the new gym gear, new kicks, buy that membership, spend hundreds of dollars on supplements and healthy foods … only to fall off the wagon within 2 weeks and feel like a total failure.
That all sounds pretty doom and gloom I know – but there is hope!
There are strategies that can help you get around these annoying human traits and set yourself up for success.
Here are my best tips and tricks for staying on track and smashing those health and wellbeing goals:
Temptation bundling is where you link a positive, fun, or luxurious action with a new positive habit that you want to implement. The trick is though, that you only do this fun and exciting thing when you are practicing your new habit…
For example, if your goal is to run for 30 minutes on the treadmill or do a workout at the gym, then you could think of something like watching your favourite Netflix series, audiobook or indulgent TV show ONLY when you are working out; so if you want to see the next episode or hear the next chapter, you have to go back to the gym!
It has to be alluring and exciting for you, so think about what things you love to do, or would love to do if you had the spare time, and link it to your health goals.
Studies show that this really works by increasing the appeal of your new habit that you’ve been avoiding, by connecting it to the things you love and enjoy. This way your brain gets those lovely dopamine hits that help you to return to an activity again and again.
Here are some more examples to help you find your ideal temptation bundling routine:
- If you really need to reply to a heap of emails or messages - do it whilst having a spa treatment or having your favourite glass of fancy red wine.
- Only listen to your fav podcast or music playlist whilst going on your daily walk.
- Invite a friend over every Sunday afternoon to food prep together.
Start by writing a list of all the things you’d love to do but have been procrastinating about, and then all the things you can think of that you enjoy doing, and see which ones you can link up to create your bundle!
The Little Things
- Get your gym clothes out the night before
- Schedule it! Whether it’s food prep, exercise, work, or drinking more water, pop it in your calendar as a commitment, and use your smartphone to set up reminders
- If you want to start rising earlier to fit in some self-care or exercise, try setting your alarm 15min earlier each day until you get to your desired time
- Only surround yourself with positive, inspiring influences on social media, clear out anyone that makes you feel bad about yourself or drains your energy!
- Focus on why you are trying to bring in these new habits – for example if it is to feel happier and healthier – write down and visualise exactly how this will feel when you get there and revisit this every few days.
- And most importantly, make sure your new goal is actually aligned with your values and personality. E.g. don’t join a gym if you loathe the gym, try a different, more aligned form of movement such as a team sport or yoga.
Preparation Is Key (Sticking To Your Healthy)
- Create a meal plan at the beginning of each week to ensure you have healthy food in the house ready to go
- Schedule in food prep time each week e.g. every Sunday afternoon
- Find shops / farmers market that stock the healthy supplies that you need. Make it a family/couple routine to go each week so that it becomes a positive habit
- Have pre-prepared and portioned snack containers ready to grab each morning, e.g. berries, nuts, fruit salad etc.
- Have healthy snacks on hand at all times to avoid sugar crash binge eating, keep some protein bars/balls, nuts and seeds, fruit, or granola in your desk drawer and handbag
- Lock in your exercise/work/relaxation schedule with your partner and family so that everyone knows you are unavailable during these times in advance.
Find An Accountability Buddy
You don’t have to do it on your own! In fact – it is proven that having an accountability buddy can really help keep you on track and stay focused! This could literally be a friend who comes with you on that walk or run, meets you at the gym, or comes over every Sunday to food prep together.
Having someone with similar health goals that you can bounce off and help keep each other motivated is invaluable. You are much less likely to cancel when you know someone else is depending on you too! When one of you is having an off week, the other can give the push that’s needed to keep going. Even if you aren’t meeting up in person, you can still check in with each other regularly to report on how you are tracking and inspire each other to keep going.
Reward Yourself!!! (Sticking To Your Healthy)
And finally, remember to reward yourself! Celebrate your wins, no matter how small. Every time you do this you help solidify your new healthy habit. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, but make sure you take the time to give yourself a pat on the back. It could be your favourite take away, glass of wine, Netflix binge, or that dress you’ve been eyeing off. Whatever you desire!
So there you have it, there is no need to avoid those new habits anymore!
Start small, and remember that things don’t happen overnight. The key is starting where you are at and setting small achievable goals that will lead you to your long term bigger goals. If you go too hard too soon, you may end up sabotaging yourself before you begin! We want our habits to be sustainable, and the key to this is building them into our lives using small, achievable and enjoyable steps.
Happy habit forming!
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