Dr. Bell's Blog

5 Ways To Start a New Habit

As I mentioned in my previous blog about New Years resolutions, many people have good intentions when it comes to making change in their lives but often fall short in their follow through.  Today I want to give you a series of tips that will help you make lasting change to improve the quality of your life for years to come.

1. Know What You Want, and Be Specific:  This may sound like a given, however many people want to make changes that are so broad that there is no target to shoot for.  For example, saying "I want to get healthier" or "I want to lose weight" are nice ideas in thought, but are not specific.  The more specific your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it.  Saying "I want to lose 20 lbs by April 1st" is more specific, and something that is easier for your brain to focus on.  Know what you want, and GO GET IT!

2.  Commit For 30 days...No Excuses: We are what we repeatedly do.  90% of the effort needed to achieve a goal is done with consistent effort the first 30 days.  This doesn't mean your bad habits will disappear then, but you will be through the hardest part of change.  During this time commit to taking significant action EVERYDAY towards achieving your goal, with NO EXCUSES!  This consistency helps to really hard wire the new habit into your nervous system which will help prevent slippage.

3.  Write Down Your Progress:  First, write down you goal on a piece of paper and place it where it will be visible upon waking and going to bed in the evening.  Daily reminders of what the goal is can be invaluable.  Next, however small and trivial it may seem, chart what you are doing everyday to achieve your goal.  Not only will this help reinforce that you are making progress, but also help serve as a reminder if you are not.  Being able to see in writing the good and the bad can provide a lot of helpful feedback.

4.  Enlist The Help of a Friend:  This can be helpful on a couple fronts, but primarily it provides further accountability.  Other people will hold you accountable far more than you will alone. This type of support is especially helpful when making lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. Is it more fun to exercise alone or with a friend? Is it better if everyone in the house is eating healthy, or just you?  This will not only be helping you out, but them as well. You can even make it fun, and have some friendly competition with them if you like.

5. Reward Yourself:  The proverbial "carrot at the end of the stick" is also something that can provide some nice extra motivation.  Have you been wanting to buy those new shoes?  Maybe take a vacation?  Whatever the "carrot" it, reward yourself with it if, and ONLY if, you see it through and achieve your goal.  You will feel proud and accomplished when you finally achieve it.  Then it is time to celebrate!

In closing, know that all change can come with its ups and downs.  Learn from your mistakes, don't repeat them, and put them behind you for good.  Don't beat yourself up if things aren't coming easy, but also don't give up.  As I see in the office, the people who are the healthiest are the ones that are the most consistent.  Commit to 2016 being the healthiest year of your life.  A healthy lifestyle, accompanied by regular spinal check-ups can help make that happen...

LIVE well.  BE Well.