You don’t need to have 100 habits to make your life better. About 12 healthy habits are plenty to create the best version of you.
Of course, the key is that these habits need to be effective and strategic to move you forward. So choosing the RIGHT habits is incredibly important. When you have the right habits in place, you can essentially put your wellness journey on autopilot, leading you towards your best self.
Let’s breakdown how to create habits that will help you achieve your wellness goals:
1. Know your goals.
In order to reach your wellness goals, you first need to actually know your goals. Makes sense, right?
And once you know your goals, you can then back it up to identify which habits will have the greatest impact to reach these goals.
The best habits support your wellness goals and make them much more likely to come to fruition.
In this step, make a list of your wellness goals and prioritize them.
For this exercise, I like to first envision what I want my desired self to look and feel like, and really feel into what my world would be like as this Future Me.
With this desired state in mind, I then braindump how I’m feeling, what I’ve achieved, what a “day in the life” is like for Future Me.
In this free wellness course, 5 Days to a Healthier You!, I coach you through my “3 Wishes” process where you can get crystal clear on your wellness goals and what your Future Self looks and feels like.
So you should now have a list of your wellness goals. To be successful, prioritize which of these goals you’re ready to move forward on with your current resources and confidence level.
2. Make a list of all the habits that would aid in reaching those goals.
Next, we need to look at your most important wellness goals and consider all of the habits that would help you to reach those goals. Here I prefer to swap the word “habits” for “action steps” since they’re not technically a habit yet – they are instead a list of things that we think we should do or would like to do to reach our goals.
So in this step, list every possible action step that you can think of – no matter how small it might be – that could help you reach your top 3 wellness goals. In fact, the smaller, the better.
This exercise is all about brainstorming. Just write whatever comes to you. No judgment, just a braindump. We’ll refine this list later.
3. Prioritize your habit list.
Some of the action steps you just brain dumped will be far more effective than others. We need to refine this list into action steps that will work for us and help us reach our Future Self.
The key is that these action steps need to be aligned to your wellness goals and that you are ready and confident enough to be successful at it.
For example, if you have “stop smoking” or “stop eating sugar” as an action step, can you realistically stop smoking or stop eating sugar tomorrow? AND be successful?
So instead of the action step “stop eating sugar,” refine it into smaller, more realistic action steps that are still aligned to your goal.
For example, “no snacking after 8pm” and “find healthier alternatives to my favorite snacks” as initial action steps may be more achievable for you now, as you work towards your overall goal of being sugar-free.
So next, review your list of action steps, and start refining them into doable, achievable steps – the smaller the better. Think baby steps.
I walk you through how to do this quickly and strategically over in Day 4 of my 5 Days to a Healthier You! wellness course. If you’d like assistance in this area then I highly recommend checking out this free course.
4. Make a Plan
Once you have refined your list of action steps into smaller steps, next choose your top 12.
Your list of 12 should be based on which action steps you feel will make the biggest impact, and help you progress successfully towards your desired self over this next year.
5. Start with only one action step.
Start with the first action step and develop a plan for how you can implement it within these next 30 days. If you action step is small enough, then this should be easy to do. For example, I have an action step to “eat a green vegetable at lunch.” I don’t need to do much planning (other than buying green vegetables to have readily available), I just need to start adding a green vegetable to my daily lunch.
Keep it to one new action step for every 30 days. It might seem more effective and much faster to start all of your action steps at once, but it works better, and the results are more long-lasting to do it one at a time.
6. Do it daily.
Consistency is the key. Action steps, when done daily, will soon graduate into being your daily habits. They become a part of your daily routine and who you are. When done consistently, they help put your health and wellness on autopilot.
7. Keep your eye on the big picture.
Ideally, the 12 action steps you selected should inspire you and excite you every time you do them because you know that they are moving you towards your desired Future Self.
…But we’re all human, and consistent actions can sometimes tend to lead to boredom. So it’s key to remember why you’re doing these steps in the first place.
A great way to keep it exciting and motivating is to have visual reminders around you, illustrating your desired self. Placing inspiring pictures around or creating a vision board can help you stay mindful and on track with your daily actions. If you keep your attention on the benefits you’ll gain and who you can become, it will make staying on track easier.
8. Track your results.
As you start your new action step, you should track when you did it, as well as when you didn’t do it, noting why you didn’t.
Having this level of awareness will help you see how well the action step is working for you.
If you’re not able to do the action consistently, then it may be time to reassess whether it’s the right action step for you to be working on right now.
And then also track your progress. I ask my clients to track every month how they’re feeling emotionally (e.g. how’s work, how’s your stress) as well as how they’re feeling physically (e.g. energy levels, headaches, bloating).
I call this their Wellness Score. It’s a great way to see how well you’re progressing using both the warm and fuzzy view and a trackable black-and- white number. Part of this Wellness Score is creating their Wellness Wheel which you can run for yourself over here.
Tracking your results can be quite motivating. Especially since we tend to forget how we used to look and feel as we make progress.
Its all about “progression, not perfection.”
9. New Month, New Action Step
After 30 days, your first action step should be almost automatic.
And congratulations, it has graduated into a habit! You’re now ready to add on another habit from your list of 12.
Repeat this process until you’ve added all 12. Just 12 habits will make a huge difference. Instead of trying to change everything about your life at once, try tackling life one habit at a time. Which habit will you choose?
Need a Healthy Habits Cheat Sheet?
I’ve developed a list of nine daily action steps that my clients have seen tremendous benefits from. If you’d like to jump right into trying these nine daily habits, then download my Daily Nine list complete with a habit tracker over here at Daily9MicroHabits.com.
If you’re really ready to make significant changes to your health, then you might be interested in my physical Healthy Habits Tracker as well.
Which action step are you going to start with this month? Share in the comments below!