No one is perfect. And despite our best intentions, we don't always stick with the behaviors and habits we know are healthy. But how do we prevent a single slip up from becoming a series of unhealthy behaviors?
When trying to establish a new healthy habit or progress towards a health goal, it is inevitable that something will get in your way. Some days you will easily overcome that barrier and other days it will get the best of you. And that's okay!
Maybe you're trying to walk 10,000 steps a day. And you've reached that goal for 14 days in a row, woohoo! But then you have to spend the day travelling for work. You're on the train and then in meetings all day and there's no time to get those steps in.
You go to sleep feeling a bit dejected that the streak of 10,000 steps a day ended. And as soon as you wake up the next morning is what Iike to call the moment of critical mindset calibration.
Will you allow your disappointment from yesterday cause you to give up on achieving 10,000 steps today?
Will you get back on track and start building the chain of 10,000 step days again?
Your critical mindset calibration might take a few minutes or it could be a few seconds. The more you practice, the shorter time it takes to calibrate. But you can't rely on just this calibration alone.
You have to set yourself up for success even when it comes to the principle of not missing twice. But how?
Great question! Below are 6 strategies to reset after breaking your habit.
1. Make It Realistic
If you strive for absolute perfection in all your food and exercise choices chances are it will only take a few days to get off track. And once you're off track, it's very hard to go back to perfection.
So when you're trying to add a new healthy habit, make it challenging but feasible. Don't set yourself up to be disappointed.
Here are a few ideas
- Eat 2 more servings of fruit or vegetables each day
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator when coming and going from work
- Meditate for 2 minutes a day
Accomplishing these small things for weeks or months in a row is ultimately better than accomplishing a big thing for a few days and then quitting.
2. Create a Visual Cue
If you are keeping track of your new healthy habit, make it something visually stimulating. That way you can see the streak of days or weeks or months that you have completed your habit. And if you miss a day you'll be more inclined to get back on track and keep the visual appealing.
Try putting a star on your calendar for each day you successfully complete the healthy habit. Or, put a paperclip in a jar for each day and watch as the jar fills up over time. You can read more about the paperclip method from James Clear's article in the Business Insider.
3. Forgive Yourself
When completing your critical mindset calibration it's important to keep the dialogue in your head positive. Don't beat yourself up for slipping up one time. It's not one day of sleeping in or eating pizza that's going to derail your progress - it's letting yourself do it over and over again.
Imagine you are climbing a very long set of stairs. You take 25 steps up but then stumble back down 2 steps. Are you going to continue to let yourself fall back down to the bottom of the steps? Or keep charging up to get closer to the top?
Don't miss twice. But don't beat yourself up for missing once. It happens to everyone!
4. Celebrate Success
Give yourself positive reinforcement to continue your healthy behavior. Celebrate streaks of days or weeks or months that you have completed the habit without failure. This will make it more appealing to get back into the routine if you slip up for one day.