50 Golden Rules for Forming Healthy Habits

This article was originally published on Health Room, by Luke Jones at: http://herohealthroom.com/2015/10/21/healthy-habits-golden-rules/

Forming healthy habits is a topic that is pretty close to my heart.

Back in university when I was struggling with a few health issues, paying attention to my habits allowed me to turn things around and get out of the slump that I found myself in.

It wasn’t easy to start with, but over time I learned about the key habit forming principles that have since allowed me to change my diet, alter the way I train, form a regular meditation practice, chase my dream career, and a load of other stuff in between.

In this post I want to share with you the top fifty tips and ideas that I’ve picked up along the way, so you can start to make lasting changes too. They’re the fifty golden rules of forming healthy habits, if you like.

Next to each tip I’ve included a link that enables you to share it on Twitter, so if any of the golden rules in particular resonate with you, then go ahead and hit the ‘tweet this’ link to share the parcel of wisdom with your friends!

Free PDF Summary: This article is a pretty long one, at nearly 7000 words! Click here to download a nicely packaged checklist that summarises the 50 Golden Rules for Forming Healthy Habits (plus four bonus tips)

The Fifty Golden Rules of Forming Healthy Habits

1. Though shalt realise that most of the situations we find ourselves in are the result of our habits. Tweet This

2. Though shalt understand that many of one’s habits are initially unconscious. Habit changing is about making them conscious, and then altering them. Tweet This

3. Prior to changing a habit, though shalt strive to have a clear understanding of one’s current situation, including one’s unhealthy and healthy habits. A map and directions to a destination are useless unless you know where you are in the first place. Tweet This

4. Though shalt have a clear reason ‘why’ to change one’s habits. Ain’t nobody making lasting changes without one. Tweet This

5. One’s reason ‘why’ should relate to one’s individual values — the things that are most important to you in life (which will differ for everyone). Tweet This

6. Though shalt write this reason ‘why’ down, somewhere one will see it everyday. Tweet This

7. Though shalt only work on one or two main habits at a time. Any more, and one’s chances of success plummet rapidly. Tweet This

8. When choosing that first habit change, though shalt carefully consider which change will provide the most bang for it’s buck, or which one will be the easiest to start with. Tweet This

9. Though should have a clear understanding about why a particular habit will benefits one’s life… Tweet This

10. And one should endeavour to do as much research around the topic as possible (e.g — reading books, speaking to others who have made similar changes). Tweet This

11. Though shalt alter one’s surrounding environment to ensure it is conducive of making changes. Make it as simple as possible to succeed. Tweet This

12. Though shalt endeavour to identify and deal with obstacles now, before they become a problem later (e.g — remove unhealthy food from the house). Tweet This

13. Though shalt avoid dipping into one’s willpower reserves as much as possible. It’s a finite resource remember. Tweet This

14. Though should remember that overnight success stories are an illusion, and one should not expect to create massive lasting changes in a short time period… Tweet This

15. However, though should remember that consistent effort over a prolonged time period can really transform one’s life situation. Patience is key. Tweet This

16. Though shalt either start small, making the habit change as easy as possible, and build gradually… Tweet This

17. Or though shalt go all in with a thirty day challenge, reassessing at the end of the thirty day period (AKA the hybrid approach). Tweet This

18. Though shalt set a clear start and end date to this challenge. The former to ensure one’s habit change is taken seriously, the latter to ensure one has something to work towards. Tweet This

19. Though shalt understand that it can take anywhere between 30–90 days to change a habit, sometimes longer. Again, don’t rush it. Tweet This

20. Though shalt understand that this timeframe depends on many things, including the habit one is working on, the environment, and one’s approach to changing habits. Tweet This

21. Though shalt realise that succeeding in one habit change will increase one’s capacity to make further changes… Tweet This

22. However, it is easy to get carried away with early successes and overreach, so though shalt endeavour to stay level headed. Tweet This

23. Though shalt understand the benefits of using goals in forming healthy habits, but also their drawbacks, in order to make an informed decision on whether to use them or not. Tweet This

24. Though shalt understand the concept of the habit loop — one’s brain detects a cue, which triggers an action, to receive a particular reward. Tweet This

25. Though shalt use this knowledge to replace unhealthy habits with healthy ones to get a similar reward (e.g — begin to replace smoking with exercise). Tweet This

26. Though shalt understand that consistency is key. The more one repeats a certain pattern, the more likely it is it will become a lasting habit. Tweet This

27. Though shalt be a team player, not a lone wolf. Drop that ego and allow others to help you on your habit changing journey. Tweet This

28. Though shalt check in with accountability partners on the regular to keep tabs on your progress. Tweet This

29. Though shalt also use other forms of accountability, including forums, online groups or habit changing apps. Tweet This

30. Though shalt act as an accountability partner for others whenever possible, to increase your understanding of the habit forming process, and to help them form lasting healthy habits too. Tweet This

31. Though shalt make use of triggers and reminders, building off existing healthy habits, such as brushing one’s teeth or sitting down in the car… Tweet This

32. Or though shalt introduce new triggers (e.g — reminders on your phone, post it notes, setting out gym clothes the night before). Tweet This

33. Though shalt make use of external rewards to celebrate success (e.g — going out for a meal after completing one’s thirty day challenge). Tweet This

34. Though may also set consequences for missing the goal or habit change, increasing the likelihood of staying on track (e.g — if one misses two days in a row, perform a public forfeit). Tweet This

35. Though shalt track one’s progress using a calendar, journal, app or online service. Tweet This

36. Though shalt understand the power of visualisation and positive self talk. Change one’s story, then reinforce it with action. Tweet This

37. Though shalt remember that perfection is an illusion, and one will likely stumble at some point. But that’s okay. Tweet This

38. In preparation, though shalt have a solid action plan to deal with failure. Tweet This

39. Though shalt embrace small failures and slip ups as part of the learning process… Tweet This

40. But though shalt get back on track and learn from one’s mistakes promptly. Tweet This

41. Though shalt embrace the journey and avoid getting caught up with the end result. Tweet This

42. Though shalt remember that life is not nearly as serious as your brain often makes it out to be. Tweet This

43. Though shalt endeavour to be proactive and take responsibility for one’s situation, as opposed to being reactive and playing the victim. Tweet This

44. Though shalt remember that ideas without action are just ideas. It’s what one actually does that counts, not what one says they will do. Tweet This

45. Though shalt be prepared to adjust one’s plan and alter one’s direction as the internal and external circumstances change. Don’t hold onto something just because that’s the way it’s always been. Tweet This

46. Though shalt understand that health is a complicated picture made up of many different interacting components — no one habit will solve all your health issues… Tweet This

47. However, though shalt discover keystone habits that will facilitate further changes (e.g — consistent meditation may lead to healthier diet choices and regular exercise). Tweet This

48. Though shalt remember that whilst change can be fun and beneficial, one shouldn’t feel like they always have to be improving. Sometimes it’s good to take a pause, be still, and just savour the moment. Tweet This

49. Though shalt understand that habit changing does not have to be difficult. With a little tweaking, the key habit changing principles can be applied to just about any change that one wants to make. Tweet This

What habit changing rules or tips would you add to the list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

If it’s a unique idea, I’ll update the article to include it (giving you credit of course)

Free PDF Summary: Click here to download a nicely packaged checklist that summarises the 50 Golden Rules for Forming Healthy Habits (plus four bonus tips)

Originally published at herohealthroom.com on October 21, 2015.