How To Turn Good Intentions Into Habits

It usually takes more than good intentions to establish a new habit, even if we know the habit will be highly beneficial for our health, and set a fine example for our children, or grandchildren.

However, just a bit of strategizing can increase the likelihood that new habits will take hold and become a familiar part of our life.

Creating a Habit

Let’s say, for instance, we want to eat a nutritious breakfast everyday instead of grabbing something on the way to work, or settling for what’s left in the fridge. It’s an excellent intention since people who eat well in the morning tend to have steadier glucose levels, and snack less the rest of the day. Yet, without a clear, simple plan this, or any other intention is likely to remain in the realm of good ideas.

So, using the example of eating a nutritious breakfast, here are some suggestions that have helped others establish a daily practice. We might give these tips a try, tweaking each to suit our personal style, or come up with a plan of our own:

  • Be Specific. It can help to write down our intention and the reasons behind it. For example, “I will eat a nutritious breakfast everyday. It will help me regulate my blood sugar, lose ten pounds over the next year, and have more energy to engage with family and friends.”
  • It’s best to keep the intention to ourself, or share it with just one or two trusted, and supportive individuals.
  • Set A Signal. We need to set a time, or other signal - such as after a morning shower, or after getting dressed - that prompts us to prepare our breakfast. If our workday and off-day morning routines are quite different, they might require separate signals.
  • Small Steps & Supplies. Start with simple, easy to prepare breakfast menus such as peanut butter on whole grain toast and half a banana, or a bowl of oatmeal sprinkled with berries and two sausage links, or a fried egg sandwiched in a whole grain English Muffin, and half a grapefruit.
  • We might eat the same fare all week long or have two breakfast ideas that we alternate during the week. We could also come up with several morning meals and rotate through them for a month (or more). Whatever feels doable is fine. Once we have our menu set, it’s time to make a list and shop for the ingredients.
  • Also, keeping our breakfast supplies in one cupboard, and one area of the fridge will make preparation more convenient—and new habits thrive on convenience.
  • Work the Plan. Once you have the supplies, make breakfast the next day. Just do it.
  • Keep Track. Keeping a record of the days we follow through and eat a good breakfast can be both rewarding and motivating. A checkmark on a wall calendar, or on a habit-tracking app can stir a deserved sense of self satisfaction. It may also prove helpful to jot down any changes we notice in glucose readings, energy level, snack habits, mood, or weight.
  • If we miss a day, we can use the unchecked calendar space as a cue to reread our written intention statement, and make any necessary adjustments to our strategy. Maybe our menu needs to be simpler, or more varied. Maybe we need to get up ten minutes earlier, or lay out our work clothes the night before to give ourselves more breakfast time.

Naturally, these suggestions can be adjusted and applied to any lifestyle habit we wish to create, and by following a simple strategy consistently for 30 to 60 days we will morph our good intention into a fledgling habit.

Inspired by: Lions Roar
Photo credit: inkmedia.eu

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