What to do if you failed an important habit
Maybe you ask yourself how to change eating habits in a sustainable way? The following approach for the more ambitious among you will show you how to iterate habits (repeat action to improve) you failed recently. You will learn how to try it again with one or more adjustments.
Check the 3 basic rules that make habits stick
Pick the most important change that you’ve failed at sticking to and think about the reasons for the failure. A failed “keystone habit,” like drinking enough water, would be a great choice.
Check if your habit change was based on the 3 basic rules that make habits stick:
1) Were the triggers as reminders reliable?
The best triggers are routines in your life that are already automated, e.g. brushing your teeth, washing your face, eating dinner, etc.
If you connect such triggers to new habits, you set up a system (habit loop) that makes it easier to start. For example: whenever I prepare vegetables for my meal, I eat a portion of raw veggies to increase my vegetable consumption for the day.
What was the trigger in the important habit that you failed? Have you chosen a reliable trigger that signals your brain that it is time to perform the specific action? If you think the trigger was not effective enough, this time choose another one and improve the change.
2) Was the habit change easy and realistic?
The easier the habits you are tackling, the higher your success rate. Now let’s come back to the habit you failed: was this tiny habit actually easy, or was it too difficult/unrealistic for you? Be very sincere with yourself.
If the habit you were targeting did not feel easy to break, then an option would be to make it this time easier. For example: if you can’t drink a glass of water every two hours, aim for every three hours, or find another water drinking routine that suits you. Once you’ve decided, try again to build a behavior chain over several weeks.
3) Did you use a small reward that you enjoy?
Research has shown that the reward is an important part of the habit process. Enjoy each small success and give yourself a small reward that works for you.
You’ll achieve the best results when the reward follows the desired behavior pretty quickly, and when you reward the behavior frequently.
It could mean giving yourself something small you enjoy: Did you choose an appropriate reward for your important eating habit change? If not, think about another reward.
How to change eating habits: 3 Action Steps for Iterating Habits
1) Figure out which of the above reasons was most responsible for making you fail your important habit.
2) Choose only one factor of the three above that you change. Write down your new habit method.
3) Try it again this week and iterate the failed habit. Pay attention to whether it is working and to obstacles.
Don’t give up if you break the chain again; improve your habit loop instead. There are still lots of other options you can try to ultimately reprogram your brain for better eating habits!
How to change eating habits – it’s your turn!
I’d love to hear what’s working for YOU in the context of changing eating habits. I look forward to reading your comment!