How to change your habits: 4 easy steps to success!

Published 19 September, 2016

Getting healthy doesn’t need to be daunting. All it takes is a few tweaks to your daily routine – the smaller the better… 

‘Whether you have 7lb or 7st to lose, there’s only one way to succeed in your get-healthy journey – and that’s by thinking small,’ says behaviour expert Dr BJ Fogg of Stanford University – who lost nearly 2st with WW. ‘You’ll never change something big if you don’t start with something small,’ he says. ‘Besides, small successes can have a big impact on us. It’s not rational, but that’s how we work.’ BJ devised a special programme called Tiny Habits to help people adopt healthy behaviours – try his four easy steps to success.

Step 1: Start during a typical week, so not when you’re on holiday or off sick. ‘Morning and evening habits also seem to work much more effectively than anything in the middle of the day when you’re often too busy to focus,’ says BJ.                                     

Step 2: Rather than choosing just one tiny habit, choose three that you’d like to introduce into your daily routine. You’ll learn more if you try a few at once. Each new habit should take no more than 30 seconds to complete. If it takes longer, think smaller! ‘The main mistake people make is getting over-excited and thinking too big,’ says BJ. ‘But this isn’t realistic. For example, if you want to get fit, start by doing one push-up each morning – not 20.’                                     

Step 3: Set yourself cues. Your habits need to fit into your routine, so insert them after something that’s second nature, such as brushing your teeth or drinking your morning coffee. ‘Saying “I’ll do one push-up before work” is too vague,’ says BJ. ‘Instead, say: “After I brush my teeth, I will do one push-up.”’                            

Step 4: Celebrate every success! As soon as you’ve accomplished the habit, do something that makes you feel good. ‘Pat yourself on the back or say “I’m brilliant” – it might feel strange, but it teaches you to associate the habit with something good, making you more likely to do it again,’ says BJ. Don’t worry if you need to change your initial three habits either: ‘This happens,’ says BJ. ‘Play around until you get it right – but keep practising.’