According to science, it takes 21 days to change a habit, or create a new one. When it comes to your fitness or exercise goals—the same applies. If you really want to break your bad habits, you have to actively do things that shift both your behavior and your mindset to get you on the right track.

If you’re looking for a simple solution, I hate to break it to you, but there’s no foolproof means of breaking habits. There are easy ways, though, when you focus on what you’re looking forward rather than backwards, and not overthinking the ways you’re falling short.

Sometimes the simplest shifts can make the biggest impact—here’s how:

1. Start by writing down your goals.

This may sound basic, but truthfully, if you’re committed to the tangible act of writing down your goals and positive habits, it’s easier to take the steps to make them happen.

Think of it this way: if you run into an old friend at the grocery store and say “We should hangout sometime,” are you likely to meet up? Or are you more likely if you say something like this, “Tuesday the 9th at 11:00.” The obvious answer is the date and time—not only is it specific, but it forces you to write it down on your calendar and make a commitment. The same goes for your goals.

If you want to break your bad habits, you have to commit to writing them down: writing down both what you want and don’t want. This helps you to start to visualize and make an action plan for how, exactly, you’re going to stop doing the bad things and start doing the good things.

2. Create an action plan for whenever you ‘slip-up.’

As humans, failure is (unfortunately) inevitable. But truly breaking your bad habits is all about figuring out to do when you do have slip-ups. Take dieting for example: You can eat right 99% of the time but grab those late night chips that thwart your progress. Rather than beating yourself up over the mistake or feeling powerless to your impulses, you can create an action plan.

An action plan is actively helping yourself to fight those cravings. Maybe you purchase veggie chips instead, and eat those. Maybe you create timelines of when you can and can’t snack. Or maybe you simply limit the quantity or frequency of when you’re snacking.

Whatever you decide is ultimately your choice, but truly breaking your bad habits is about ensuring that you do have a plan when temptation arises.

3. Commit to growth alongside a buddy.

I preach the buddy system all the time, but that’s because it really works. When you have someone else to help you stay accountable, the likelihood of you achieving your goals is far higher.

When you decide to commit to change or growth: in your eating habits, exercise, etc. it’s even more powerful when you do this alongside a friend and best advocate.

Marisa Donnelly

Marisa is a full-time freelance writer, editor, and fitness enthusiast located in Ocean Beach, San Diego. She is the author of the poetry collection, Somewhere On A Highway and founder of Be A Light LLC, a remote writing coaching/tutoring/editing services company.


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