Practice Makes Perfect (Or At Least Good)– Especially With Habits

What gets you to Carnegie Hall?  Practice.  What makes your new healthy behaviors stick?  Practice.

If you’ve resolved to form new healthy habits, ones you want to keep and that fit in with your lifestyle, you need to keep repeating those new behaviors over and over again.  It’s like learning a language or a new game.  You need to keep practicing.

Why? Our brains are lazy. They like to default to what’s easy for them – and usually that’s an old habit (both good ones and bad ones).  That default is what takes the least amount of energy and it’s nice and comfortable. Doing something that’s very familiar can be done without much thinking or energy — like eating a certain thing everyday at the same time or going for a daily run at the same time and on the same route.

The way to create a new habit and to make it “stick” is to create a new “default” pattern to replace an old one. That requires the repetitive practice of doing the same behavior over and over again – like creating a path through grass or weeds by walking on it day after day.

Some Additional Tips

You might like to try one change at a time instead of making too many resolutions or setting too many goals. Create one new habit and then begin to work on another. Since our brains are, in a sense, kind of lazy, they don’t like too much disruption or change at a time.  They’re used to doing something one way, so pick one change at a time and create a habit around it.

Be committed and willing to work on your goal(s).  Decide if you’re really willing to make change(s) in your life. Are you serious or half-hearted about what you want to do? “Kinda,” “sorta” goals give you “kinda,” “sorta” results. Realistic, achievable goals produce realistic results.

Start Small And Specific. So many of us are guilty of all-or-nothing thinking and overly ambitious goals. Guess what happens?  We shoot ourselves in our collective feet and call ourselves failures.  Do it often enough and a “no can do” attitude gets solidly embedded. Make resolutions you think you can keep. If, for example, your aim is to exercise more frequently, schedule three or four days a week at the gym instead of seven. If you would like to eat healthier, try replacing dessert with something else you enjoy, like fruit or yogurt or a very small portion of a favorite indulgence — instead of seeing your diet as a form of punishment.

Unhealthy behaviors develop over time. Creating healthy behaviors to replace those unhealthy ones also requires time. Be patient.  And practice.

This article is part of the 30 day series of blog posts called: 30 Easy Tips for Looser Pants and Excellent Energy.

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