Let’s face it, we all have “bad” or “unhealthy” habits we’d like to break. And, healthy habits we’d like to implement, like eating more nutritiously or exercising regularly. But as we all know, turning a simple action into a daily habit is no easy feat. So, what is the most important step to take in order to change a habit? The first one.
Often, when we think of a habit we want to implement we think about the big picture. Let’s use “exercising regularly” as the example. It’s going to be really hard to implement regular exercise into your life because although this might look like one habit, it’s actually the culmination of many individual steps. Let’s break them down:
Step 1: Picking the Type of Exercise(s)
The first step is easy. Pick the type of exercise you want to participate in! This could change on a daily basis, but the most important part is that you pick something you actually enjoy doing. You’ll be much more likely to stick with it.
Step 2: Determining the Length of Your Exercise
How long will this take? If you plan to exercise for 30 minutes, be sure to include any travel time, if applicable, so you can accurately account for that in your schedule.
Step 3: Deciding How Often (and When) You Will Exercise
Make a decision on how often and when you will exercise. For example, you might choose three days per week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Make sure to be realistic with your goal, as it’s much more difficult to stay motivated if you’re missing the mark week after week.
Step 4: Putting Your Exercise Schedule Into Your Calendar or Planner
Put your exercise dates into your calendar. Having time blocked off for this helps your brain register this as an important event, one not to be missed.
When It Comes Time to Exercise...
Step 5: Put On Your Exercise Clothes
While it might seem to make sense to jump to Step 10, this step is crucial (don’t ya think?). When it comes time to exercise, put on your exercise clothes. Then, move on to Step 6.
Step 6: Putting on Your Sneakers (or Appropriate Footwear)
Complete the outfit with making sure you have the appropriate footwear.
Step 7: Leaving Your House
This might be the hardest step for some people, especially if you’re exercising early in the morning (hello, snooze button), or right after work (hello, primetime TV). Instead of focusing on the exercise, just focus on leaving the house. This might mean you step outside for a moment, only to turn around and return to the couch. But, we find more often than not, you’ll make it Step 8.
Step 8: Transporting Yourself to The Gym (or Class, etc)
Steps 8 and 9 might not be applicable if you’re doing an at-home workout, or going for a run or bike-ride. So you can modify this as needed. If you’re going for a walk, run, or bike ride, this step might include just getting started. We stress: getting started. It doesn’t mean you have to complete the workout, it just means you’re take the first few steps, then a few more, then a few more.
If you’re planning to go to a gym or a class, this might mean getting in your car or on the bus. Once you’re in transit, you might decide to take a detour to your local taco joint. Hey, that’s OK. The only thing this step requires is beginning your commute. We didn’t say anything about finishing!
Step 9: Arriving at Your Destination (And Going Inside)
Once you arrive, you might just decide to go inside and use the restroom. But, more likely, you’ll head to your planned workout!
Step 10: Starting to Exercise
And… Go! This step can be broken down into much smaller steps or milestones such as “Warm Up,” “Run,” and “Stretch.” Maybe you only complete the first portion of your workout, or maybe you cross the finish line. The more attainable you can make each step, the more you’ll boost your motivation and confidence to follow through.
Yes, we realize that some of these steps might seem silly. However, when you can breakdown a daily habit into baby steps and just focus on completing each step, it makes it much easier to cross the finish line. You might spend the first few weeks scheduling your workouts, but never putting on your workout clothes. Or, you might spend the whole day in your workout clothes, and never actually make it to the gym or on your bike ride. But if you can focus on just taking the first step, it makes it much easier to build up to a daily, or at least regular, habit.
We’d love to hear from you! Try this exercise and let us know how it worked for you.
What’s one habit you’d like to implement? What are the steps you need to take to make it a daily (or regular) part of your life? Let us know in the comments below!