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6 Steps to Forming a new Healthy Habit in 2022

It's that time of year when our new year's resolutions are top of mind. For some, it’s a healthier lifestyle, for others it's setting the intention to be more mindful. Whatever your resolutions are for the year to come, the secret to accomplishing your goals is to create new, healthy habits. At the end of the day, a list of goals is meaningless without a clear plan of action for how to achieve them. 

So if you’re the kind of person who keeps putting off the healthy changes you know you need to make, but aren’t sure where to start, then this article’s for you. 


1. Make your goals ‘S.M.A.R.T’



Every successful plan of action begins with clear, measurable goals. You may have already made a list of things you’d like to accomplish, but the way to set yourself up for success is to be specific with that list. Oftentimes we say things like “I want to be healthier”, or “I want to make deeper connections with my family”, but these are too vague and impossible to track.   

“S.M.A.R.T” (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based) is a common method that will help you set well-defined, trackable objectives. 


Not using the S.M.A.R.T method: “I want to be healthier” 

Using the S.M.A.R.T method: I will exercise for 30 minutes, 4 times a week this month. 

2. Identify unhealthy patterns or barriers 

As we identify what wedo want, it can be helpful to identify what wedon’t want, or what is getting in the way. We all know what self sabotage feels like – oftentimes we are our own worst enemy and find ourselves in unhealthy routines that prohibit us from attaining what we really want for ourselves. 

 “The first step to changing your behavior is to create an awareness around what you do regularly,” explains Dr. Lisa Marsch, an expert in behavior change at Dartmouth College. “Look for patterns in your behavior and what triggers the unhealthy habits you want to change.” 

If you have a habit of dipping into the candy jar late at night, you need to first become aware of that problem, then change your behavior around that. In this case, the problem starts when you buy the candy at the grocery store. If you are mindful that this is a problem for you when you’re doing your groceries, you could alternatively go for a healthier snack option, like fruit or granola.  


3. Picture the end result  


In order to get to where we want to be, we have to be willing to make some sacrifices along the way. It helps to keep your eye on the prize, as they say. Too often we get caught up in focusing on how difficult the given moment is, rather than thinking about the positives of the end result of achieving our goal. 

You want to live a healthier lifestyle, so instead of taking the easy route and picking up some fast food, think about how healthy and energized you will feel if you put in the extra time to make a healthy dinner. Fast food is definitely the easier option of the two, but how will you feelafter you eat it? 

It takes time to rewire your brain into thinking this way, but once you do, it will make all the difference in helping you achieve those goals you’ve set for yourself. 


4. Track your progress


Remember those S.M.A.R.T goals you wrote down earlier? It’s important to put a system in place where you can actually track and measure your progress. This is why we were specific with our example: exercise for 30 minutes, for 4 days a week, for an entire month. With a specific goal like this, it’s easy to track your progress. The trick is finding a system that's realistic enough for you to consistently use.

And there areplenty of ways to track progress: calendars, spreadsheets, a tally system or chart, the list goes on. Perhaps the easiest method is using an app, like Habit Tracker, or Done, this way you can keep track of your progress whenever, and wherever you are. 


5. Rely on your community for support 


On your journey to change, it’s important to remember that progress is not linear and that it’s completely normal for there to be bad days. There will be times when you feel like giving up and stuffing your face with everything andanything you can find in your cupboards with even a trace of sugar. 

Having a small community of friends or family that you can go to when for support will help you stay motivated. A simple, “I believe in you” goes a long way when you feel like giving up.  


6. Reward yourself 


In true psychological fashion, it goes without saying that you cannot establish a new habit without rewarding yourself for good behavior. Let’s say you achieved the goal you set for the week: you exercised 4 times, for 30 minutes each. That's great! Now reward yourself with your favorite sweet snack, or by calling a friend and celebrating your win with them!   

Although it may not seem necessary, celebrating small wins with rewards are a crucial part of forming new, healthy habits.       

There will always be highs and lows on the journey to forming new healthy habits, but with a clear, trackable plan of action, a support system you can rely on, and by rewarding yourself for good behavior, you will be on the right track to living a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.