This time of year, many of us are trying to establish new healthy habits through New Year’s resolutions. One great way to do this is through “Decisive Moments”.
We tend to focus on the activity that gets us the results we want, such as going to the gym three days a week. What is more important is developing a short routine that ensures we will follow through to the desired behavior. If you want to start working out more, figure out what the first behavior is that will ensure that you get to the gym. It might be packing your gym bag in the morning and putting it by the front door so you remember to take it with you when you leave for work. It might making a point of turning left out of your work parking lot instead of turning right to go home. Once you turn left you are almost sure to follow through and get to the gym.
What if you want to save money, and calories, by taking your lunch to work instead of eating lunch out. You might develop a habit of setting a lunchbox on the counter as part of your night time routine, so seeing the lunchbox on the counter in the morning prompts you to make a lunch in the morning.
For me, I want to start working out at home so I started setting a set of dumbbells in the living room so I see them after work. Seeing them prompts me to pick them up and do a few curls, and doing this feels good so I’m more likely to walk to the other room where the weight bench is to do some more.
If you can find the small behavior that sets the bigger behavior in motion, it’s much easier to do the thing you tend to put off. If you come home and immediately put on your running shoes, something you don’t have to think too hard about, you’re more likely to get outside. Remember, humans are basically lazy by design and our brains try to conserve energy so trying to drum up the willpower to “work out for an hour” or “clean house for and hour” can seem daunting and our brains tend to say “Nope, maybe later”. But, if we make the beginning behavior super easy and it takes almost no energy, we’re more likely to do the smaller behavior. Once we do the smaller behavior, we’re more likely to follow through and do more than we planned. And voila, you’re on your way to doing the main objective.