Can We Trick Ourselves into Better Habits?

Claire the Afena Mom Blog

Can We Trick Ourselves into Better Habits?

Jan 20, 2016
It’s the middle of January. The weather is cold, the roads are less than friendly, and our heating bill hides in our mailbox like a monster in the closet. Even the most positive of personalities can find themselves struggling to stay upbeat in these circumstances. 

This is the point where a lot of our new year’s resolutions start to slip. I don’t think it’s because we’re lazy or untrustworthy. I think it’s because when it comes to our day-to-day lives, we have a ton of commitments, and a lot of us put ourselves at the very end of a long line of obligations. After all, we can always get back to the gym later in the month, or start saving towards retirement later in the year. The easiest person to neglect is yourself, and we’re quick to give ourselves permission to do just that. Once you’ve given into this tendency a few times, it starts to become a habit...and that’s when we really get into trouble.

So my question is this...if we can form habits that put our best interests last, how do we break them? How do we allow ourselves the time and the patience to reprogram ourselves to be more committed to our personal goals, when we’re currently programmed to keep pushing those personal goals to the back burner? Obviously we all know it can be done, but I wanted a road map. So I did what I often do in these situations: fired up Google and started searching the web.

I think the best advice I found was to start small. So small it’s almost laughable. Why? Because the most important part of forming a habit is being consistent, so focusing on that first is a surer path to success. If you’re trying to get healthier in 2016, you commit to 5 minutes of exercise a day. I get that wrestling with Moose! Or if you’re focusing on financial goals, you commit to eating out one less time per week. Make it easy, and you can always increase the intensity later, once that behavior starts to become ingrained in your daily life.

5 minutes of exercise a day over the course of a year adds up to more than 30 hours! That doesn’t seem like such a small commitment when you look at it that way. If you stop eating out one extra time per week, you’ll end up saving close to $500...and that’s if you’re only paying for yourself! That’s another big theme behind the articles I found online: the small things add up, whether good or bad. And they’re the easiest changes to make.

I know it’s cold and gray outside, and I know that winter seems like it’s going to last forever right now, but I think we can all do this: pick one small thing, one ridiculously easy habit to start, and get started. Maybe I’ll see you at the Y this week for your 5 minutes, or maybe we’ll run into each other at Afena to start that quick and easy club account. Whatever it is, good luck - you can do it. I’m Claire, the Afena blog mom. Thanks for reading.