If you own an iPhone, you know that the photo app has a way of showing you old photos as memories throughout the day if you have the widget. As someone who does have the widget set up on my home page, it recently showed me a picture of myself from 2017.
My hair was shiny and bouncy, my eyes bright, my skin as healthy as it'd ever been, and I remember having far more energy throughout my days.
For a moment, I mostly just missed how easy my hair was to manage back then (it was much shorter than it is now), and then I realized that for a lot of reasons 2017 was a good year. Mostly because I had habits I'd built up so well they were on auto-pilot.
It was very much giving ✨Healthy Lifestyle✨.
My day job, as a barista at the time, had me up every day at 4 am. I'd squeeze in writing sprints, get ready for work which involved full skincare and sometimes a face beat, walking to the train or taking a cab there, spending all day on my feet and on the move, and then basically not sitting until I came home at the end of the day.
My days off mostly looked the same but I'd sub in going to the gym or running errands. I worked at a plant-based restaurant and I'd become a vegan by accident for three or four years.
There I was, staring at an old photo of myself. Not so much wishing to go back to life at that particular time, but to get back to the habits that had that version of me on ✨GLOW✨ every day.
It made me miss my high energy, a clear mindset, healthy habits, and routines that were second nature.
Another thing to know about me is that I love Spring. I'm technically a Winter baby but I thrive from Spring to Fall. I feel better, I'm more motivated to get things done, I eat lighter, and overall just feel better throughout my days.
So naturally, I figured with Spring here (kind of) now is time to get back to re-building the habits I know work for me.
Here's the thing though. That picture that inspired me isn't really enough to get my ass moving on the daily and I know myself well enough to know that. Instead, I'm approaching my habits with a better mindset, and a little bit of strategy.
If you're looking to build or rebuild some healthy habits in your life, here are six ways I'm getting it done that may or may not help you out, too.
Know Why You Want It
One way to really know what you want is to know why you want it.
Regardless of whether you're trying to get back into a habit or start a new one, the reason why you want to incorporate this habit into your life matters just as much as the habit itself. If you're unclear on why you want to make this habit a part of your everyday life, you may find it hard to stick with it in the long run.
On average, it takes us about twenty-one to thirty days to build up a habit enough that it begins to become an instinctive part of our day-to-day. You and I both know that that's not really a long time. Most of us can stick things out for a limited amount of time because we know it's for a limited amount of time.
If you want to start working out every day because you have a trip coming up, the why behind your workout habit won't hold up once the trip is over. You'll either stop working out because there's no longer a trip to motivate you, or you'll take the time to find another and more solid reason why you want to keep with the habit.
The reason why you want to have this habit be a part of your daily life is what's going to help you stick out beyond any time frame. When you start to think about the actual habit you want to nourish, there are some questions you can ask yourself to get to the root of why you want to focus on this habit.
How will nourishing this habit benefit my life?
Is it a realistic habit to incorporate into my everyday life?
How would I make this habit part of my day-to-day in this season of my life?
What do I want for myself from this habit?
Use the answers to sort out your why that's going to last you into the long hard days and keep you motivated beyond your short-term goals.
One thing I distinctly remember about having cultivated all of those good habits between 2016 and 2017 is that I took it slow and had solid reasoning behind each of my habits. It started with waking up at 4 am when I didn't actually have to be clocked in until 6 am and lived twenty minutes away by cab.
My reason for waking up at 4 am instead of sleeping in an extra hour? I needed time to power on and be a person. That's it.
I had to spend ten to twelve hours every single day interacting with people, as an introvert, and make everyone believe I meant it. The only way to do that was to spend some time sitting on the couch with a coffee, often in the dark and in silence, and just exist as I took my time getting ready for the day.
By the time I clocked in for work, I was happy to be there and my days felt much easier even if customers weren't so great.
Waking up at 4 am became a form of self-care, and eventually, I filled that morning time with writing sprints, meditation, or whatever else I wanted, and it became second nature. Within a few weeks, I was waking up before my alarm, excited to nurture my habits, and myself, and I didn't really have to think about it.
Now I'm not saying you should start waking up at 4 am to start building your habit, but I am recommending that you start with one thing at a time that you can build on.
If you happen to want to get into the habit of waking up earlier so you can get more done, refer to the reason why you want to develop this habit and set yourself up to be successful in building the habit.
Start by waking up thirty minutes earlier than you already do for a period of time, giving your mind and body time to adjust to the change, and gradually work toward your goal in whatever increments apply.
When you start to feel like it's becoming second nature, connect with another habit you'd like to build on.
It's important to start small when it comes to building habits because if building habits all at the same time worked well in the long run, I'm sure we'd collectively struggle a lot less with habit building.
It's easy to get swept up in the inspiration or motivation to start a new habit, but it's harder to ride that energy into every habit, every day, for all time.
If I'd tried to incorporate waking up early, having coffee, reading, writing, working out, doing a full face of makeup, and having breakfast all before work all at the same time, I'd have crashed and burned as fast as I started. I'd to think that's a fairly common experience.
Starting small means you're building a system of habits that support each other and these habits are more likely to turn into the lifestyle change you're looking for.
Challenge Yourself, But Make Easy
As you set out to build up this new habit of yourself, challenge yourself.
This may sound a little counterproductive to starting out small but challenging yourself is meant to help you win, not set you up for failure. Challenging yourself shouldn't make you miserable or resentful of the habit you're trying to build. It should excite you while also helping you grow.
A good challenge is easy to accomplish while asking you to do something a little bit unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Sticking with my earlier example of waking up early. A good challenge to start would be to wake up thirty minutes earlier every day for seven days.
Is it easy to accomplish? Yes.
Am I going to like it? Not for the first ten minutes, but then I'll be glad I did.
As I reach day seven and wake up thirty minutes earlier, it's going to feel easier and I'd have adjusted a little bit. Then, I'm going to add ten minutes to that, wake up forty minutes earlier than usual, and do it for another seven days.
The challenge increases because now that I already know I can wake up easily for seven days straight, I'm going to repeat it but make it a tiny bit harder. Still doable, still beneficial to my overall goal, and just annoying enough to feel like a bit of a challenge. Then I'll rinse and repeat until I've meant my goal.
Afterward, I can focus on sticking with it steadily by challenging myself to add on another habit I want to build.
Challenging yourself to build your habit in an easily achievable way makes your only opposition the bad habit you want to break up with, and gives you the bit of inspiration to do it again with a new habit you wish to build.
Making the challenge easy ensures that you form a healthy relationship with the habit instead of resenting the challenge and habit by making it too hard right from the start.
Here's the thing to know about building up habits, for the most part, they only benefit you. No one else is wondering if you're keeping your word and waking up at 4 am because they're busy sleeping and working on their own habits.
Does everyone who loves you want to see you do well? Of course.
Do they care to call and wake you up early with the reminder to meditate for ten minutes before having coffee every day? No, probably not.
When it comes to building habits, the person you're most accountable to is YOU.
Holding yourself accountable to the habits you want to form comes down to my first tip -- firmly understanding your why behind the habit you wish to build.
It's what's going to get you out of bed and doing the thing every day. It's what's going to get you moving when your body doesn't want to and you're preparing to talk yourself out of it.
Your why holds you accountable to your future self. Though if that's not enough, find that thing that is. Maybe you mark down the habit on a checklist and you want to be able to tick it off every single day. Maybe you post a picture of your morning view every day at the same time for your followers to enjoy with you.
Whatever it is, make sure it's something you can lean on during the days and moments it's hard to stick with the particular habit.
Every day is not going to look the same and that's okay.
Some days you're going to have to sleep in because your body is going to need it. Some days you won't journal because you're feeling good and there's nothing to talk about. Some days you won't go to the gym because your body needs a recovery day.
This doesn't mean you've failed, lack discipline, or that you've somehow lost progress on the habit you've built. Now, if it goes on longer than it should without good reason, that's a different conversation for another day.
Being able to give yourself grace is a balance between knowing when you should be pushing yourself or challenging yourself to stick to your habit even when you don't want to, and when you've worked hard and actually need to give yourself a break to avoid burning yourself out in any way.
It's how you treat yourself the same way you would a friend.
Does the moment call for you to push said friend to challenge themselves to hold steady, or do they need to take a moment, realize how far they've come and listen to their body and take a break?
The healthiest habit you can build is checking in and being kind to yourself.
Building new habits is exciting. Mostly they're nothing to throw parties about but that doesn't mean you shouldn't celebrate your progress or just take time to congratulate yourself for breaking up with a bad habit.
If you're waking up at 5 am every day, and you've been doing so for a while, maybe treat yourself to a breakfast or a trip to your favorite coffee shop before everyone else gets there.
If you've been sticking to your gym routine, buy yourself something cute to wear to your next workout or out for fun.
Whatever is it, celebrate it, take time to share about it, and congratulate yourself for sticking to your word, holding yourself accountable, and forming a new habit that makes you happy.
Celebrating yourself is incredibly important when it comes to any accomplishment, even habit building. It's good for the ego. It's healthy to be proud of yourself for ditching what doesn't serve you.
Celebrate yourself for taking care of yourself.
Do you have any habits you're trying to build or break up with? How are you doing it?