Atomic Strategies to Make New Healthy Habits Stick

New Year’s and even Lunar New Year celebrations have officially come and gone, meaning 2023 is well underway worldwide. With the hustle and bustle of these festivities in the rearview mirror and February quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to track progress and re-evaluate our New Year’s resolutions. Most importantly, now is the time to learn about and adopt strategies to keep them up throughout the remainder of the year. 


If you, like many individuals, haven’t set a New Year’s resolution for yourself – don’t fret. Instead, check out our previous blog post, which outlines several realistic New Year’s resolutions for a healthier year ahead. There’s never a wrong time to start re-investing in your health and living up to your ideal potential. 


And, for those who already set an ambitious New Year’s resolution and haven’t made the progress you hoped for so far, there’s still plenty of time to achieve your goals. Remember, evidence indicates that as many as 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February, so just reading this blog is an important step toward reaffirming what you hope to accomplish in the next 11 months. So keep reading, and don’t give up hope. 


A Recap of Good Goal Planning

It’s worth restating that great resolutions (or any goal plan) must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART). Resolutions should be something that is meaningful to you and specific enough that progress can be tracked. For example, instead of saying, “I need to eat healthier”, consider the goal, “I plan to prepare a homecooked, nutritionally balanced meal twice per week throughout the month of February.” This goal aligns with eating healthier but is specific about the action, along with providing a measurable output and timeline for achieving it.


Remember These Top Tips for Goal Planning:

  • Make sure your goal is realistic and achievable. This will help to keep your motivation up and avoid becoming overwhelmed.
  • Break down your goal into smaller, more manageable chunks. This will make it easier to stay focused on the outcome.
  • Create a timeline for yourself, with achievable milestones along the way. This will allow you to track your progress and stay motivated.
  • Reward yourself for reaching milestones. This will not only help keep you motivated but will also give you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Surround yourself with people who will support you and hold you accountable. Having someone to talk to and share your progress with will help to keep you on track.
  • If suffering a setback, be kind to yourself, reevaluate and try again.


Atomic Habit Techniques You Need To Know

New Year’s Resolutions are simply desired habits you haven’t fully adopted yet. Whether trying to break a bad habit or practice a new one, there are proven, expert-designed methods to make small changes to our everyday routines compound into exponential, positive changes over time.


This concept was popularized in Atomic Habits, a New York Times #1 bestseller written by author James Clear, that provides practical advice and strategies on how to make and break habits in order to achieve long-term goals. The book focuses on small changes and how they can lead to significant long-term results – atomic habits. It focuses on the idea of making tiny changes to your daily routine that add up over time and create drastic improvements in your life.


With over four million copies sold, Atomic Habits has been lauded as a definitive guide to achieving goals. While we recommend purchasing the book or renting it from your local library, there’s tremendous value in highlighting some of the high-level strategies Clear recommends.


Make Good Habits Desirable

To form habits, you must make them noticeable, attractive, easy and satisfying. Clear suggests this four-step pattern from which he derives four laws of behavior change, providing ideas for how to use them to make good behaviors easier and bad behaviors harder.


1. Make it obvious: Set a SMART goal, then design your environment and daily routine to cue your good habit. For example, if you want to get to the gym after waking up, set out your workout clothes and put them on immediately after waking up. Next, have a coffee and head out the door.


2. Make it attractive: Bundle something you need to do, like your New Year’s resolution, with an action you want to do, i.e., going to the gym means you can have your favorite breakfast. Also, consider joining a group or team where your desired behavior is normal, like a softball league or workout group.


3. Make it easy: Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits and prepare your environment to make future actions easier. Leverage technology to remind you to meet your daily goals, and when procrastinating, use the two-minute rule to break procrastination cycles.


4. Make it satisfying: Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete a habit. Use a habit tracker, like a bullet journal, to track streaks and “avoid breaking the chain.”


You can apply these principles to all kinds of constructive habits, such as running, working on a side project, spending more time with loved ones, and so on. You can make these activities more visible and attractive, and easier and rewarding to do.


Break Bad Habits By Inverting These Principles

Conversely, you can do the opposite for bad habits. Make them invisible, unattractive, difficult, and unsatisfying. In fact, you can use this approach to any bad habits you want to break and replace them with good habits you want to form.


1. Make it invisible: Reduce exposure to cues of bad habits by removing them from your environment


2. Make it unattractive: Set aside time to reframe your mindset and refocus on why you set your New Year’s resolution to stop a bad habit in the first place. Recall the benefits and use them as motivation.


3. Make it difficult: Increase friction between you and the bad habit. Additional barriers can make it harder to jump back into them in moments of weakness


4. Make it unsatisfying: Get an accountability partner or create a habit contract.


For example, you can remove junk food from your home and add financial penalties for eating fast food. Alternatively, you could limit yourself by only allowing yourself to eat at your least favorite fast-food restaurant, which makes eating out far less enjoyable.


Support & Care for New Year’s Ambitions

It’s a great time to set goals and intentions for yourself; why not start with professional help? We partner with our patients to help them reach their health goals and feel better. Our health and wellness team is currently accepting new patients and is standing by to assist you with medically-proven therapeutic treatment programs to help you reach your wellness goals. Best of all, when walking through our doors, you can expect friendly, knowledgeable and compassionate care, plus dependable access to your doctor. Request an appointment today or call us at 904-724-5767. 


Individuals should speak with their primary care physician before making any significant lifestyle changes or engaging in new activities, like exercise.

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