Over the past couple of weeks, I have noticed a trend. When discussing adopting healthy habits with my patients, they have started to tell me ‘I want to, but I’ll just wait until after Christmas and start in the New Year’. Delaying doing something you know you want to, something that will makeyou feel better, because of an annual holiday, to me, sounds a bit bizarre! Yes, it’s Christmas in a few weeks but why does that mean you can’t start a healthy habit now?
I think the problem is that we are resistant to change, we like what we know. Developing new habits, at first, takes will-power, time, motivation and is perhaps for some a littledaunting. Sure, change can be uncomfortable but if you’re waiting for the perfect moment to change, chances are, it will never materialise. If you know what it is you would like to change, makes steps towards that today.
If you know who you’d like to be or you know who you truly are, but aren’t acting in a way that’s congruent to your values, you have to change. You cannot do the same things or act in the same way and expect different results.
To make change easier, start off by knowing exactly why you want to do it. Having a clear understanding of why something’s important to you will make it easier to prioritise your habit. For example, Habit = get 7+ hours of sleep every night. Why = I want to start going to bed earlier so I can get more sleep, this will allow me to be more productive at work, have more patience with my loved ones and avoid so many food cravings and control my weight better.
Get some accountability. If you find it difficult to keep promises to yourself, find someone else to keep you accountable. For example, if you want to walk more but know that you lack the self-discipline needed, join a walking group or find a friend to walk with. For some, not wanting to let anyone else down will be the motivation for change.
Make the change convenient. Don’t set yourself up to fail, so if you despise early mornings, don’t try to get up early to exercise before work. You’re a night owl, accept it and exercise in the evenings after work, when you have more energy.
There is never an ideal time to try to form a new habit. If you want to make a change for the better, there is no better time than right now. We will always find a reason, or even reasons not to change. I think Christmas and the stress it brings is a widely used excuse but let’s face it, we can find any reason to justify our hesitancy if we really want to. There is no promise of tomorrow so act today.