As humans, we’re creatures of habit; the trick is to always be working on the habits we WANT. This time of year is when so many people try–and fail–to make drastic changes in what they do on a daily basis. So how can we best go about changing behavior, teaching ourselves a new habit, or making a fresh start? We’re glad you asked.
Strip away the sugar coating, and the basic truth is that it takes work: LOTS of work. Because we are creatures of habit–and because we already have habits to start with–changing our behavior is always going to be a struggle. It takes more than just good intentions: it takes a plan.
So if your intent is to try to establish a good habit–like say, going to CrossFit on a regular basis–there are certain steps you need to take to make that goal a reality. For example:
- Particularly around the first of the year, we’re prone to creating laundry lists of things we want to change. Doing so, however, is just setting yourself up for failure: it’s hard enough to make one change, let alone make all the changes on a list the size of a CVS receipt. Narrow your focus down to one thing you want to alter, and concentrate on that.
- One of the biggest struggles with making a change is that we try to “tack on” something new in our already hectic lives. That’s like trying to stick a part of the picture outside of the frame. So once you’ve decided what you want to do, start thinking in terms of what you’re not going to be doing in that time frame. You want to start CrossFit? Great. But you need to plan now to be aware of what isn’t going to happen once you start coming to the box.
- Despite the bad rap resolutions get every January, research has shown that change is best accomplished through making a resolution and sticking to it. To successfully create a new habit, your resolution must be SMART:
- S “Worry less” sounds nice, but it’s not really a resolution.
- M There has to be some type of measurable metric.
- R At the end of the day, you have to know that the work is worth it.
- T You have to be able to track your progress.
Incidentally, CrossFit was designed to provide all of these factors. Just saying.
- It’s also helpful to make a commitment strategy. In other words, trying investing more than just the outcome. Tell all your friends what you’re doing. Put money down. Find some way to keep yourself accountable. One of the advantages of CrossFit is that you have a built-in community that always has your back … but who will also keep pushing you to reach your goals.
- The longer you stick with your new commitment, the more likely it is you’ll develop a habit that’s automated so you don’t have to think about. Once you hit that point, you’re not worried about self-discipline, there’s not a lot of active internal debate, you simply–to quote Nike–“Just do it.”
In most situations, this starts happening after about 3 months. That’s when you really start feeling like you’re really going to stick with it; it’s become part of your life.
Being able to make a change and stick with it can be a huge deal. In the case of joining CrossFit, it can make you healthier, give you a community, and generally improve your life. But any successful change is going to make you more feel more confident and in control. Some studies even suggest it can make you a better friend, partner–even a better boss.
Of course it isn’t easy. No one said it was. We’re only saying that it’s worth the effort.