We all have goals, and to achieve those goals some form of persistent hard work over a period of time is required.  Maybe we would like to read more, learn a new language, master the piano, educate ourselves on a new job skill, or get healthy.  These are not fitness, diet and learning problems at their core – at their core these are habit problems.  Almost every problem, challenge or goal that we face today or establish for ourselves can be broken down to its core component – habit (or the lack of habit).

When people set out to change their health and fitness, their first goal should be to establish good habits, these good habits will be the most powerful tool in helping us to achieve success.  Above all else, the focus should be on establishing good habits that will progressively move you towards your goal.  And there are a few tricks to establishing good habits that can make sure they stick and become part of your routine.

For starters, establish habits that are relatively minor in terms of their change from your current daily routine or activity level.  This will ensure that your habits are achievable, and success breeds confidence and more success.  If you can’t remember the last time you walked 500 meters in one stretch, let alone ran anywhere, you probably shouldn’t set out to form a habit of running at least 3 Km per day.  The 3 Km run is too drastic of a change from your current set of habits and will likely fail to take hold.  Instead, a more reasonable target would be to walk every day for 30 minutes.  Once you have successfully formed that habit and built it into your routine, you can work to begin adding in some running.

Another tip:  associate or link new habits with old habits (the good ones) that are already built into your daily routine.  If the new habit is a minor adjustment to your daily routine and achievable (see the first tip), and you mentally connect it with a good habit you already have, you will find It much easier to form new habits that will help you achieve your goals.  For example, if you have the goal of learning a new language but no habits to support that goal, but you do have the good habit of waking up and having a healthy breakfast every morning, you can combine the two to achieve your language learning goals.  Every morning you wake up and study your new language for 15 minutes while eating your breakfast.  This habit is minor (only 15 minutes per day), it is achievable, and it is associated with a good habit you already have in your routine (eating a healthy breakfast every morning).  In no time you will have established a habit that will help you achieve your goal!  Discipline is the key here as you must always link the two activities, if you are eating breakfast, you are studying your new language.

And the last tip:  there will be hard days when you don’t feel that you can achieve much, but always reinforce and continue good habits.  Good habits are the basis for success in every endeavor, and those good habits are what should be formed and protected first and foremost.  If you have established a goal of training at Tribal three days per week, but you find yourself too exhausted from the day’s work to head to the Jungle, you must focus on maintaining and reinforcing your habit of training, even if you think your training will go poorly that day.  You may show up to training and run slower, or lift less than you think you should, or you may spend much of a session working on mobility instead of a heavy work sessions, but what is most important is that you maintained and reinforced the good habit, you came, and you put in some level of work (and you will feel better afterwards for overcoming that adversity).  Over time, this habit will become second nature, and it will carry you towards your goals, even on your worst days.