“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an art, but a habit.”
We all know it takes three to four weeks of consistent behavior to form a habit, but sometimes even our most sincere efforts don’t work. I’ve been telling myself I need to eat more vegetables for what seems like years now, but I haven’t made any appreciable headway. I think I should be eating veggies at every meal.
Here are a few things to consider when trying to start a new habit.
- Decide if it is a S.M.A.R.T. goal. Tuesday’s post can help with that. Does eating vegetables at every meal fall into these guidelines? Yes. It’s not time-bound, though, because it’s a lifestyle change and shouldn’t end.
- Does it require too much of a change all at once? I think this one does because it will require a lot of extra shopping and recipe hunting. It’s not that Icouldn’t do it, but the goal is to make it easy so I stick with it. So let’s change the proposed habit to “Eat vegetables at every lunch”.
- Do I expect myself to be perfect? I don’t think I’m likely to ever be perfect, so I am making the conscious choice to cut myself some slack if I forget. Perhaps I’ll have veggies with dinner, or as a snack instead. I will put a reminder note on the fridge to help me tomorrow.
- What is the reward? Habit formation works on the cue-routine-reward system. Cue: lunchtime. Routine: eat veggies. Reward: ?? The most important thing here for forming a habit you can live with is the reward. And the reward needs to be immediate, not a few weeks from now when I’m feeling better because I’m eating better. So how can I reward myself for eating my veggies in a way that doesn’t undermine my nutritional advances and doesn’t promote the formation of a bad habit? I haven’t come up with one yet and I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.
So tell me, which of your New Year’s resolutions are you going to turn into a habit?