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How to build 'better' habits - you need to read this one.

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

You can’t simply ‘try’ to implement a ‘good’ behaviour for your goals, Billy BS – here’s why that’s weak.

During my check ins with my nutrition clients I often hear them say things like ‘I’m going to try to get 12000 steps in on three days this week’, ‘I’m going to try to prepare my lunch for work the night before’, ‘I’m going to try not to drink when we go out at the weekend’ – it almost NEVER works and here’s why.

It’s weak. It’s meaningless. You’re giving yourself a get out before you have even started. The word TRY is the kicker here.

Scientific research has shown that formulating a fixed plan for our actions, specifically health, nutrition and exercise habits is FAR more effective than simply relying on motivation being present at the time.

Let’s look at this in practice – you could say, ‘I’m going to try to go to the gym three times after work next week’, equally you could say ‘I am going to go to the gym straight after work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5.30 until 6.15’ – I don’t need to tell you which mindset is more likely to help you get s**t done. This sort of method has been proven to more than double success rate in goal achievement – the power of mindset is truly astonishing and becomes more and more apparent as my journey into coaching progresses.

This is often, in the psychology world, known as an ‘implementation intention’ – all that is, is a plan you make before about when and where you will perform a specific action – how you INTEND to IMPLEMENT a habit, if you like. Time and location of the action are the most likely and common ones here.

These implementation intentions have been shown time and time again to be most effective for sticking to goals and habits increasing the odds of success no end.

So, it goes without saying, and I speak not only from the research but also my experience now, that those that implement a plan for when and where they will perform and action or new habit are far more likely to actually do it.

I’m not trying to make life more difficult when I tell you all to plan EVERYTHING, I promise – as always, there is method behind my whittering.

‘I’m trying to eat more healthily’ or ‘I’m trying to go for an early morning walk’ will almost NEVER work. We can’t leave things up to chance, hoping we’ll get round to doing these things when we remember or when our fancy takes us there, we HAVE to make a plan of action. It takes any possible decision out of the equation – ‘I am going to go for a walk as soon as I wake up tomorrow’ is non-negotiable, it is going to happen, you will follow the set plan.

Doing things this way also helps in that it takes decisions away from potential derailment from your goals. If you have made a plan to go to the gym straight from work at a particular time, it becomes much easier to say ‘no’ to after work drinks than if you were merely going to try to get there. If you were simply going to try, after work drinks have suddenly got in the way and immediately that ‘try’ goes out of the window. The plan is far less likely to as it makes you clear about what you should really be doing in line with your goals.

Stop being vague.

Make your intended actions obvious and easy to implement and hard to say no to.

Plan, plan, plan.

Go on, have a pop, let me know if it works for you. I can’t wait to hear about your success.

Tomorrow we continue a habit chat as we discuss the notion of HABIT STACKING – something I have specifically been asked to write about so watch this space.

Peace and love, A x

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