The trick to building habits is not what you think…
Hi friend! When it comes to health and habit building, many of us know what we “should” or “could” be doing, but a million things seem to get in the way.
“If only we had X, it would be easier!”
Do you hear me?
…I had more time.
…X wasn’t so expensive.
…I could do it at home.
…X wasn’t so inconvenient.
I recently learned about some habit building research that’s been done all over the world that studies people who struggle to exercise. They divide the people into two groups.
One of the groups is given a free gym membership, along with free gym clothes, shoes and access to equipment.
The other group is given nothing, but told to walk up a single flight of stairs, and told each day add only one step.
The groups are then left to continue as they will, and checked back in with the researchers after 1, 3 and 5 years.
Years later, one group develops a consistent exercise regimen with better cardiovascular health… which do you think it was?
That’s right—the group told to take an extra step each day!
This habit study has been done multiple times, and results are always the same.
Easy access and removing financial burdens don’t actually help us build long-term or consistent habits. It doesn’t work!
What does work? Small steps.
Just getting started in a small way makes a much larger difference in the long-term results of habit building!
I know it can seem silly in the moment—taking a single extra step doesn’t seem it’s accomplishing much.
But if you do it every day and keep coming back to it, and just take one more step—you’re one step further! And eventually you’re a lot further along than the alternative.
The group who is offered the free gym memberships—They may go for a while, maybe days or even weeks. But motivation wears off, and it isn’t a sustainable change.
Instead of making a drastic habit change, why not a small one?
Research shows it’s more likely to last!
So how can you apply this habit building to your life?
If your goal is exercise, maybe it is really just taking one extra step per day…
Or maybe your goal is to eat more vegetables, what about eating just one extra carrot per day?
And if you want to establish a meditation practice, why not take just one more mindful breath per day?
When we are babies and we learn to walk—we don’t stand up and suddenly start running.
We take a single step. And then two. And then three. This is how a habit is built.
As adults, we could benefit from not only the mindset that comes along with this sense of slow but steady progress, but also the self-compassion and lack of judgment!
We expect SO much of ourselves, and then we beat ourselves up when we don’t meet unsustainable standards.
If we aim a little lower, knowing it will help raise our tolerance and abilities a little at a time, then we continue to climb—slow and steady.
What can you do to take one extra small step towards your goal today, and every day here on out?
I hope your week is filled with many baby steps and lots of appreciation for that growth!
Light and love,