Habits – the things we do and say automatically, without thinking – are a very big part of our lives.

They show up in our everyday activities (showering, driving, eating) … the way we talk (gestures, phrases, style) … even the way we think (self-talk, fears, judgments).

We develop habits because they make life simple. They automate our behaviour so we can accomplish things without much attention or effort.

Wouldn’t it be nice to “automate” some healthy habits of your own choosing? What if you consistently went to the gym, without even thinking about it? What if you always went to bed on time, just because?

Well, you can!

Developing new habits might be easier than you think. Here’s how:

1. First, pick a habit to establish. (Let’s use exercise as an example.)

2. What would be the smallest action you could take to get started? (For example, you could simply put on your running shoes.) Commit to doing this one small thing on a regular basis, ideally on a schedule.

3. Set up a reminder to help you remember your commitment. (For example, put a note in your calendar.)

4. When you feel ready, gradually increase your commitment – but no more than you can consistently do. Just be sure to make small changes over time; sudden or drastic changes rarely stick.

5. Share your commitment with someone. Accountability really helps.

6. Identify the personal values you are honouring with your action. (For example, if you value health and self-care, recognize that exercise is supporting something that’s important to you.)

7. Notice how good you feel when you follow a healthy habit; give yourself kudos for taking this positive step.

8. Stick with your new habit for at least 30 days. Before long, this behaviour will feel automatic and you won’t have to think about it anymore.

9. If you do slip, don’t give up – just try again the next day!

Author's Bio: 

Julia James, CPCC, PCC, M.Sc. is a multi-lingual certified life coach, award-winning author and international speaker. She helps busy professionals around the world achieve balance in their lives through individual coaching and workshops. Author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution and the audio CD series, Guided Mini-Retreats for Busy People, she provides tools to manage stress effectively and to relax and re-energize quickly. Julia has been featured on Joy TV, CBC News, as well as in The Globe & Mail, Glow Magazine, BC Business Magazine and The Vancouver Observer. For more information visit: www.juliajames.ca