Tips for Habit-Building
There are some things you can do to help new habits “stick.” They won’t all be appropriate for all circumstances, but they’re helpful to keep in mind.
As I mentioned earlier, make small changes. If you’re trying to
get up earlier in the morning, getting up an
earlier may be very difficult, but getting up five
earlier probably isn’t. If you’re able to gradually shift your
rising time, you’ll probably find it easier to maintain.
Likewise, if you suddenly throw away all the food in your cupboards and try to cook a completely different set of foods, you’re likely to get overwhelmed and discouraged (and probably battle irritated family members!). It tends to be easier if you make one small change, allow yourself and your family to become accustomed to it, and then change a little bit more. I’ll do my best to point out some specific ways to make the changes in the chapters that follow gradual.
- Whenever possible, tie a new habit to something that’s already a
habit. If you’re trying to drink more water, and you keep it that
general – “drink more water” – chances are you arrive at the
end of the day, remember you forgot all day long, and scramble to get
water-drinking in. If, instead, you plan to drink a set amount of
water at a milestone that’s already a part of your day – when
you’re brushing your teeth, at a mealtime, when you come home for
work, etc. – you’ll find it easier to remember, because that
thing you’re already doing will serve as a reminder.
Sometimes you can’t “connect” it to something, but you can replace something with it. If you want to drink less soda and more water, for instance, the desire for a soda can be a reminder to drink a glass of water instead.
- Build in “backups.” When I was trying to get into the habit of
running the dishwasher before bedtime, I found myself forgetting
probably three nights out of five. This was causing me problems
during the following day, as my whole schedule ended up behind. It
finally occurred to me to build “load the dishwasher” into my
routine for after dinner
before breakfast. That way if I forgot in the evening, I still
caught it early enough to not throw off the entire day. If at
breakfast I’d already run it the night before, of course I was able
to simply skip it.
Running the dishwasher obviously has little, if anything, to do with health, but the same principle can be used. If your plan is to drink a glass of water when you first get up, and you keep forgetting, set another “milestone” in your day to be a backup reminder – maybe breakfast, or when you brush your teeth. If you’re trying to get in the habit of making probiotic foods, and you need to check a ferment or feed a starter, set a backup so you don’t ruin it and have to start over.
Eventually, the habit will be established and you won’t need the backup, but having that backup can be a huge help while you’re trying to get it established.
One Final Note
These modules will be opening up for you weekly but some of you might not be following along right as they open up. For the most part, it doesn’t really matter what order you complete the steps in. Additional steps in each area will build on each other, but the various areas aren’t typically interdependent (in a way that would keep you from accomplishing one without another).
However, the first few steps are first on purpose because they are the steps I believe can make the biggest difference with the smallest, easiest changes, so if this is all completely new to you, I recommend you start with the first three or four before you decide whether to move straight through or jump around.
Now that we’ve laid some groundwork, let’s move on to the actual baby steps!