Article originally appeared at DYLN Inspired
Wellness is a mindset. But how do you change a mind that’s been set for years—decades even? For most of us, we have to battle against disempowering habits and beliefs to achieve the life we want. And that can seem like an uphill affair.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Here are 5 strategies you can start now to simplify your transition into a healthier lifestyle:
1. Give Yourself Plenty of Visual Reminders
The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” applies most to self-improvement. Studies at Cornell University showed that people were less likely to eat vegetables when they were stashed in the vegetable drawer, and likelier to eat healthy when the good food was visible. The conclusion? Keep your eyes on the prize. Literally.
We depend on visual cues. So, for whatever improvement you desire, you can increase your chances of sticking to it by reminding yourself with sticky notes, index cards, pictures, and notifications on your phone.
For example, we know it’s healthy to drink half our weight in ounces of water. But if you don’t have the water bottle in front of you…are you actually going to drink? We recommend selecting one of our 5 vibrant colors of DYLN Alkaline Water Bottles—you’ll never miss ‘em.
2. Get an Accountability Coach
Studies show that we’re likelier to follow through with our goals if we have someone to hold us accountable. People pay thousands of dollars just to have someone check in on their progress! But all you need is a friend or loved one.
Share your goals with them—the more specific, the better. Ask them to help you by keeping you accountable, which could be as little as a 5-minute phone call per week. And set up consequences for not sticking to your plan: like giving your accountability coach a sum of money, or donating to their favorite charity.
Most importantly, pick someone who you can celebrate your successes with—someone who is emotionally invested in your wellbeing. Their presence will legitimize your goals.
3. Make Rituals
Rituals help to strengthen your neural connections to a positive outcome. Running 5 miles a day can seem like a grueling task, for instance. But a good ritual can help you mentally prepare for the challenge. After you’ve laced up, listened to your pre-run jam, and downed your sports drink, you find yourself beating the pavement without difficulty.
It’s all in the ritual. And the stronger it is, the better it supports your habits.
So try to incorporate more of the things you love into the positive behaviors you want. If you know yoga is the best for your body but find it hard to stick with, mix it up with music. Maybe treat yourself with your favorite green smoothie afterward. Do it with friends. Then when you commit to doing yoga, it’s not just yoga: it’s a time to listen to your favorite tunes, and hang out with your favorite people, and sip your favorite drink. All of those positive associations involved in a ritual will help you stay consistent.
4. Applaud Your Effort
We strive for goals because we want to be a certain person, or have a certain quality of life. That’s normal. But those incentives statistically don’t hold water—we have a 92% failure rate for new resolutions. What’s the missing link?
We get to thinking we’re not worthy of praise until we’ve become the person we want to be, until we’ve lost the weight, until we’ve found success. But if success depends on motivation—which it does—and if you reserve your praise for completed goals, then how can you stick with something that takes longer than a day?
That’s why it’s smart to praise your effort—not the outcome.
When you give your best effort, you need lots of encouragement from yourself to continue the behavior. So applaud your effort. Doesn’t matter if you’ve hit your mark. When you do your best and improve consistently, you will hit your goals.
You can stay consistent by routinely praising your efforts. Take 5 minutes at the end of the day to journal about the efforts you’re grateful for.
What was the last fitness goal you committed to but didn’t stick with? Chances are, you stopped because you couldn’t see yourself succeeding. But that can change that if you practice seeing yourself doing what you want.
We tend to fear the unknown—even when the unknown is the thing we want; like health, or vitality. Visualizing helps you overcome that fear by repeatedly exposing you to your desired outcome, even if only in your mind. If you make something familiar enough in your mind, it won’t seem so big—so unattainable—and that gives you the mental fortitude to persist in the necessary habits.
What healthy habits have you been putting on the back burner? If you prepare a game plan with these 5 mindsets, you can make the quality of life you dream about a reality. So remind yourself of your goals with visual cues. Get an accountability coach. Make rituals out of your healthy habits. Consistently applaud your effort—I’m talking 30 times a day. And practice visualizing your goals before you start your day.
Oh—one more thing. All of this goal setting and ass-kicking puts a premium on your mental focus, which is related to your state of hydration. So drink lots of the right water.