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How are your habits?

 

Confession Time! Missing breakfast is a new bad habit that I have recently developed. I used to be a great breakfast eater. I would wake up in the morning, get dressed, drive to work and eat there before starting my busy day. Within the last 4-5 months, my work schedule has changed and now I start my work morning at home. I literally wake up, open my laptop and jump straight into my day. I get so busy that I often lose track of time and I am left rushing through my morning activities to get out the door and to my first appointment. Breakfast is the last thing on my mind. Often times my appointments are back to back and before I realize it, it is lunch time. Sometimes, I don't even get to eat lunch until 3pm and by then I am so hungry that I no longer care what I eat or where I eat. I just NEED to EAT! Depending on where I am working that day, I am often limited to my options for food and forced to eat out, which is typically not good for me and costly. But it seems that day after day I have the same conversation with myself, "it is, what it is".

I know I need to change my habits but again, I tell myself "old habits die hard right?" The truth is, that if I want my habits to change, I have to actually change something. I also know that only I can change the habit. So what does it take to change a habit? 

I say, it takes 5 steps to change a habit: 
The first step is to start with "WHY". Why do you want to change the habit? Is it a habit that you want to change for the long term or just short term? Your WHY needs to go beyond the superficial and evoke an emotional response within you. It must give you chills down your spine or even makes you cry. It must make you say, "if I don't change, (X) will be the result and I refuse to have that happen!" 

For me, the emotional WHY is that if I don't take care of my body, it won't take care of me in the future. I have seen many of my friends and family members neglect their bodies for years and are now paying the consequences of those decisions. That won't be ME!

Once my WHY is clear, my second step is to create a clear goal. I have found the easiest way to do this is by creating a SMART Goal which is an acronym for: 

-Specific: define the goal as much as possible.
My goal is to start preparing breakfast options the Sunday before my busy week, so that I can grab my meal and go. 

-Measurable: how will you track your progress towards attaining your goal?
I will track my goal with a calendar above my refrigerator so I can check off the days that I eat breakfast vs skipping it. I can then look back weekly at my success. 

-Attainable: is the goal reasonable enough to accomplish?
The goal is reasonable if I set time aside on Sunday's to go to the grocery store and then immediately come home and prepare my meals for the week. 

-Relevant: is the goal worthwhile and does it meet your need?
Yes the goal is worthwhile and works towards the overall goal of taking better care of my body by eating meals more consistently. 

-Timely: when will you complete this goal by?
I will work on this goal for 90 days using this set plan and evaluate after 90 days if I need to make any changes to help accommodate continual success. 

The third step is to put your goal somewhere that you can see every day. My goal is on a gigantic whiteboard hanging on the wall in my room. Since I live in a studio, I see it multiple times a day and can easily track my progress.

The fourth step is that you must commit yourself to your goal for 90 Days and share that goal with a trust person. Not 30 days, 40 days or even 60 days. It takes 90 days to change a habit. After 90 days you can reevaluate your goals and make changes or alterations as needed. For example, you may learn something in the first 90 days that will help make the next 90 days easier. You can also decide if the goal still applies to you or not. Sometimes with the ebs and flows of life you may find in 90 days that the goal no longer follows the direction you are going and then you can scrap it, change or modify the goal.

The fifth and final step is to praise yourself. As you successfully start to change your habits, praise yourself in a healthy way for the progress you have made. Just like when you run a marathon there are mile markers along the way encouraging your progress. Without positive praise, it can be very difficult to keep going during the down times. Praise yourself and recognize yourself for your efforts. Even if it is just a pat on the back saying, "good job!".

My challenge to you this week is to ask yourself, "what are my bad habits and am I willing  to work towards changing them?" I encourage you to clarify your WHY, create a SMART goal, put it somewhere you can see it daily, commit to 90 days and praise yourself along the way.

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