Choose Lifestyle Habits Over Goals
Setting goals is a great way to accomplish tasks that are time sensitive. While it can be motivating to set a short-term goal like “lose 20lbs in the next 3 months”, those are just temporary changes and unless those goals lead to long-term habits, there won’t be a major lifestyle shift.
This is why it is important to use SMART goals as a piece of the puzzle when creating a new lifestyle – but also to remember that they are not the sole focus. After all, those goals cannot be accomplished without the necessary behavioural habits.
Habits are actions we take every day with little-to-no thought and build the foundation for our future. Good habits allow us to reach our goals; for example, the habit of taking a 30 minute walk every morning can help you achieve the goal of improving your cardiovascular health. Whereas bad habits pull us further away from our goals; for example, the habit of drinking 2 cans of soda every day will not help you reach a goal of decreasing body fat.
The Benefit of Forming Habits Instead of Chasing Goals
While setting goals is a good thing and will help you on your journey to an optimal lifestyle, it is far more beneficial to focus on developing the habits that will allow you to reach these goals.
Habits never end unlike goals which have a defined endpoint. By focusing on forming a habit, you are setting yourself up to still be successful and walk the same path once the short-term goal has been reached. Too often when we focus on a goal, we make decisions based on what will get us to the end point – no matter the toll it takes on us or how uncomfortable it may be in the short term. However, once that goal is reached, if we have not formed healthy habits, we usually revert back to the way we lived our lives beforehand.
Habits are second-nature and don’t require willpower. When we are chasing after a goal there will always be certain things we have to abstain from – things we enjoy like going out for a drink with our friends on a Friday night or ordering pizza with the family on a Saturday. When we are on the path to accomplish a goal, we have to eliminate some of the little things in life that we derive immediate gratification from; this is not always an easy thing to do. This is where willpower comes in. By focusing on a goal we are forced to muster up willpower to accomplish it; whereas, when we focus on building healthy habits, our actions are no longer forced and we don’t have to make sacrifices. Once the habit is created, the action is second-nature and there is hardly any willpower involved in things like eating healthy or exercising regularly.
Habits are our life and in-turn, define our lifestyle. Studies show that our habitual activities, which we don’t even take notice of, make up 40% of our waking hours. This means that by adopting new habits in order to reach a goal, we will have a lasting change in our life – turning a short-term goal into a lifetime habit and lifestyle.
Creating a Lifestyle of Healthy Habits
Our habits are things we do without thinking, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the power to change them. In order to change your habits and, therefore, change your lifestyle, it is important to identify the underlying cause of the habit you have. For example, if you want to quit smoking, the first thing you would look at is what causes you to smoke – is it stressful social situations or a hard day at work?
Once you have identified the cause, you need to find something to replace the habit and slowly build this into your new habit. So, if you are trying not to smoke, perhaps every time you get stressed out from work, you drink a cold glass of water and then chew a piece of gum. It may not be easy at first, but typically, within one month this new habit will become ingrained in you and replace your old habit. The key here, though, is to cut yourself some slack and remember you may slip up and that is ok. Just make sure to get right back on track after.
Changing a habit is far easier said than done. That is why it is important to have the right support in place to help you modify your current habits into those which align with who you want to become in the future. At SydFIT we are happy to assist you in this process. Our team of health and fitness professionals can create a plan that fits your current lifestyle, but will also help you develop the habits that will benefit your healthy lifestyle. Contact us today to set up your initial consultation and get started on your journey!