In the last article, I touched on a bit of the concept of “willpower.” Contrary to popular belief, the basis of mentioning the Marshmallow study was to explicitly touch on the power of our human pull to immediate gratification and not just to implicitly dangle savory carrots in front of your subconscious minds.
It’s sooooo tempting.
Yet, while it is always a jolly fun time to consistently remove the things we love from our lives: such things like sugar, artificial sweeteners, Pumpkin spice lattes, alcohol, and Facebook, most of us would be much more successful in our health endeavors if we just started doing some of the things that we know are good for us. You know, things like actually standing up from the couch, walking the opposite direction from the refrigerator, and practicing the ancient art of “sleeping” when we lie down in our beds at night.
The issue, though, that arises with most folks once they finally decide to commit to initiating these healthy habits, is that their consistency could use some work.
How much work? Well, here are some numbers you might find useful:
- 92% of New Year Resolutions fail.
- 67% of people of gym memberships NEVER use them.
- Nearly 65% of dieters return to their pre-dieting weight within three years
- The percentage of people who achieve their health goals just by simply talking about them? (Drumroll, please…) = an astonishing 0%!
But, there is a ray of hope hinting through the clouds for those who are not fond of my iconoclastic approach to health: People who set an intention by creating an action plan of when and where to work out had a 91 percent success rate in making time for exercise each week.
So, why is this glimpse of sunshine important? What separates the successful approach to incorporating new habits, from those who seem to inevitably fail their new habit incorporation?
All together, now:
Let’s simplify this concept a bit further with some real-life examples, shall we? Two friends make a commitment to start a new healthy habit together. They want to make sure that it is not only attainable, but very actionable with their busy schedules. So, they decide that they want to commit to exercising 2 days per week and eating 1 vegetable per week. Like I said, “Attainable.”
So, Friend #1 takes the approach of putting it on her to-do list, with no other action items or prerequisites anywhere in the vicinity of the words written on the paper. She is 100% committed to completing their agreed upon healthy habits “whenever she can get around to it.”
Friend #2 is a bit more high-performance. She takes the approach of placing her exercise and single vegetable consumption on her calendar. She chooses to schedule in a consistent time, place, and activity for the 2 days during her week.
Which friend do you think is going to be more successful? If you are a consistent exerciser, how did you start the habit? By prioritizing it, or “Getting around to it?” Same question for those of you that can’t seem to incorporate the healthy habits and make them stick. Which friend are you? Which friend ought you be?
Stop chalking your health success up to “willpower” and “luck.” Start small. Plan and complete just one simple healthy activity. Then do it again next week. And the next. And if you are getting anxious waiting around for the next week in order to exercise or eat healthy again, then do it again tomorrow. That’s what we in the coaching business like to call a “routine.” Start inching your way into a new routine and watch the habits form themselves.