Forming new habits one at a time

There have been a couple of good posts in the blogosphere this week about forming habits. Organize IT gives advice on developing healthy eating habits but the advice could apply to any life change. Zen Habits gives thirteen tips on what to avoid when trying to develop a new habit.

I have always had a tendency to want to make lots of life changes all at once. I suppose this is what most people try and do. Usually when I’m having a bit of an exercise drive I’ll also be trying to improve my eating habits. Previously, when trying to get the house tidy I would attempt to clear the whole house in one go. My attempts invariably failed.

The FlyLady introduced my to the concept of only trying to develop one habit at a time. She suggests very slowly introducing new habits (over a period of a month) in “babysteps”. I followed the advice on the website and four months later the habits are still sticking – my kitchen sink is clean and the house is presentable.

I have since applied the principle of slowly adding one habit at a time to other areas of my life. Each month I try developing another habit. Once I got the house sorted I decided to try early rising. Over a period of seven weeks I gradually got up earlier and earlier. I now get up at 6.15 (6.45 on a weekend). By doing it slowly I didn’t find it difficult at all and I now find it easy to get up early.

I’m currently trying to get into a simple exercise routine. I’ve suffered with mild back pain for years and have finally decided to sort it out. The best treatment is daily exercise – and it doesn’t have to be too strenuous. I’m doing simple back stretching exercises and the plan is to do it every day or I’m not going to get the full benefit. I find the best time of day is when I first get up and by doing them at the same time every day it’s easier to remember. I’ve also added “do back exercises” as a daily repeating task to Things – that way I won’t forget and it’s a good incentive to make sure I actually do them as I love ticking the box when a task is completed!

My pre-ordered Wii Fit arrives in two weeks which I’m really excited about. I’m also interested to see how it will fit in with back exercises. I’ll do an update next month.

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