How to Set Goals and Form New Healthy Habits
A healthy habit is any behavior or activity that is beneficial for your physical, mental or emotional wellness. They may include things like good nutrition, exercise, self-care routine, stress management, or happiness related hobbies. These positive and healthy habits can lead to an overall happier and healthier lifestyle.
Goals vs Habits
When our clients focus on creating change in their life, one way to work toward this change is by creating healthy habits in their daily schedule. Many people may think of goal setting to create change and while this can be very helpful, for most, the longer-lasting change will come from creating habits rather than just short-term goals.
There is a major difference between goal setting and habit formation although much of the idea may overlap. A habit is more of an automatic response than a goal you set out to achieve, which forces you to think about and work toward it. A habit is something ingrained in you and your routine, that you do it without much thought.
Setting healthy habits in life that can be incorporated into your client’s daily routine shows higher success rates with actually reaching the target than simply setting goals. The research shows that habit formation is more likely to last and create long-term response than goal setting.
How to Create Healthy Habits
It’s hard to change everything all at once; it’s easier to set small goals and achieve them. This helps create good habits. For example, it is easier to do a small amount of exercise each day than to decide to run a marathon.
It might take your client several months to create a new habit. They will need to include the change as part of ther regular routine. Taking the time to journal can help your client with forming their new habits..
Many habits are triggered by events. For example, washing your hands is triggered by going to the toilet. It can helps if your clints set triggers for their new habit as part of their existing routine. This could include a particular time of day or an event such as waking up or eating lunch.
Setting reminders can help clients maintain good habits. If they use an online journal or diary, they can set automatic reminders on their computer or phone. There are also apps available that help with goal setting and new habits.
Our family and friends can also be a great support and can help to keep us motivated.
If your client slips back into old habits, remind them to don’t give up – this is common. Encourage them to remember why they wanted to make the change. This will help them pick up where they left off.
Avoiding Bad Habits
Make a note of what triggers a bad habit. If you are trying to eat less junk food, think about when and where you eat it. When driving? Getting it from the machine at work? After dinner?
Avoid the trigger if you can. So if you buy chips from a vending machine at work, see if you can avoid the machine. If you smoke on the steps outside the office, see if you can use a different entrance.
Replace the bad habit with a good one. So if you can’t avoid the vending machine, buy something healthy instead. If you can’t avoid the steps, chew sugarless gum instead.
Remember, new healthy habits aren’t formed overnight, but little by little, a little becomes a lot, so take it one day at a time.
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