Using Pleasure To Make New Habits Stick

Now that we’re well past the new year, have you thought about what happened to your resolutions?

Most people have given theirs up by now usually because they were unable to be consistent for the amount of time needed to get them to stick. Why? Because more often than not, when we choose new habits to incorporate into our lives, they’re usually something we don’t want to do and think that we can overcome this dislike with willpower. The problem with willpower is that it only lasts for so long.

Even the most disciplined of people need more than willpower to keep working towards their goals.

We often start off on a total high: ready to make a change in our lives for the better. After a while, the fear creeps in and we start to doubt ourselves. Then we miss few days of sticking to our new habits or goals and we start to feel shame and embarrassment that we weren’t able to keep up with our plans, causing us to beat up on ourselves and feel like a failure or even blame others or dismiss the goal altogether.

I should have done better.

I won’t ever be able to change, this is just how I am.

I’ll never be good enough. 

What’s the point if I can’t do it 100%?

If only my schedule were different, I could have made it happen.

It was a stupid goal in the first place.

I don’t need that in my life, I’ll be fine how I am.

Sound familiar?

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives, some of us more often than not. But you know what? It’s okay, it’s normal, and it can change, but we have to go about it the right way.

First and foremost, you need to have a WHY.

If you’re trying to lose weight or get healthy, having a “why” that’s set on a date, like an upcoming wedding, or something superficial, won’t stick with you in the long run. Choose a why that comes out of love for yourself, like “I want to lose weight because I want more energy and to feel confident and vibrant.” Another example would be, “I want to learn Italian so I can get the most out of my trip to Italy and give myself the confidence to go back again.”

A bad example? “I want to lose weight because I’m embarrassed about how I look and no one will love me like this.” This “why” only brings up feelings of shame and makes weight loss feel like a punishment, not something positive.

Next up, choose the path of least resistance.

How convenient something is for you makes a huge difference in whether or not we get it done. Did you sign up for a cheaper gym that’s a further away? Pay a little extra for the one closest to work or your office (or workout at home!). Do you go sit in your office to journal? Keep your journal at the kitchen counter so you see it and can do it while eating breakfast rather than having to go out of your way. The easier you can make something, the more likely you are to complete the habit.

Use positive associations.

Still struggling to keep that habit? Associate the thing you don’t want to do with something you love to do. For example, if you hate flossing, do it while in the shower. If you struggle to get out the door for a walk, make a rule that you can only listen to your favorite podcast while walking. If you can’t seem to remember to take your vitamins, keep them next to the coffee maker and don’t allow yourself coffee until you’ve taken them.

Lastly, reward yourself in positive ways.

A great example of this is rewarding weight loss or achieving new fitness goals with something other than food like a new outfit. Why? Because life is about balance and a treat isn’t something you should have to earn, it’s something you can give yourself at any time. Also, many of us already struggle with using food for emotional comfort.

Another great example, reward finishing a course in Italian with going to a fancy Italian restaurant, buying something Italian, or even a trip to Italy if you can! Reward yourself for drinking more water daily with a cute new water bottle, or for journaling consistently with some pretty new pens.

What now?

Go back to how you felt on January 1st. Go back to that feeling of hope and optimism about making a change in your life. Sit down, journal, and figure out what isn’t working for you or what you think would enrich your life. You don’t need the first of the year to start something new, you don’t even need a Monday. Start today. Start NOW.

3 thoughts on “Using Pleasure To Make New Habits Stick

  1. Heather @ Polyglot Jot

    Great tips! I also think choosing realistic goals to begin with is so crucial in sticking to them. Also, being flexible to adjusting them as the year goes on to make things more realistic is important too!

  2. Pingback: Thursday Thoughts |

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