Making permanent changes to your health is not about adopting a strict regimen or about pushing yourself to the point of discomfort in the gym; it’s about making those changes part of your lifestyle. When your food choices and workout sessions are no longer a conscious battle, that’s a sign you’ve made it.  

To be fair, this is all easier said than done. With the help of the James Clear Guide to building new habits, we’re sharing a few tricks of the trade to help you transform the struggle into a seamless part of your lifestyle. 

#1 Don’t Go Cold Turkey, Try the 1% Approach Instead 

If you’re trying to cut out bad habits, be they your food choices or your sedentary routine, you’re more likely to succeed if you make changes gradually rather than suddenly. The same goes for developing new habits. 

The guide explains that if you start off with a huge change and get 1% worse at sticking to it every day, by the end of the year you will have lost that habit. Conversely, if you start off with a tiny change and get 1% better at it every day, you’ll exceed your expectations. This is because your motivation and willpower need time to increase too, and your odds are better if you’re working with small changes rather than big ones. 

#2 Break Things Up 

This strategy ties into adding those 1% changes that help you gradually move forward. It’s a good example of how you can make adjustments slowly if you have a large goal. 

If your ultimate goal is to meditate for 20 minutes, the guide explains that you should start by breaking that into two 10minute sessions. Or if you’re trying to work up to doing 50 pushups, break them up into 5 sets of 10 that you do throughout your day. You’ll soon find your 10minute meditation sessions lasting a bit longer, or that you’re able to do 1 or 2 extra pushups at the end of each set. Before you know it, you’re doing the full 20 minutes of meditation or the full 50 pushups in one go.  

#3 Abandon Your All-or-Nothing Mentality 

This is a big one for many people. Falling off the wagon once often translates into a continuous downward spiral. For example, a cheat meal can turn into a cheat week because the thought that you messed up makes you feel like you have to start over anyway. Or missing a workout day must mean that your body has already fallen behind, and you may as well skip your next workout too.  

The guide cites that missing a habit once has no measurable impact on your long-term progress. The important thing is to get back on track as quickly as possible because it’s the consistency that’s important not the flawlessness of your schedule 

#4 Patience is Key 

Abandoning ship because you’re not seeing progress is a dangerous pitfall. If you’re sticking to your habits and making incremental improvements, you’re already doing great! 

It’s also important not to rush ahead because your changes don’t feel challenging enough. The guide notes that if you stay consistent and continue increasing your habits, it will get more challenging. The best part is you will have built greater commitment and will be more invested in your habits by the time they start to get more difficult. Being patient is critical for setting yourself up for success. 

Like what you’re reading? For more articles like this one, read about why you have cravings or how to recover from the soreness so you can keep moving forward. To stay in the know, subscribe to our Lifestyle Blog newsletter today!