Breaking/Making Habits – “Try” Before You “Buy”


Just before the new year I wrote a post on setting and keeping goals, in which one tip was to break your goal onto smaller “chunks”.

When you are trying to reach a big goal, sometimes it can seem a little overwhelming and doomed to fail before you even start. By breaking it down into smaller bite-size pieces, it becomes a lot more palatable and you are more likely to succeed.

Breaking a bad habit (or making a new one) is hard work! Studies have shown that on average a habit takes 66 days to be fully embedded (UCL, 2009) depending on the type of challenge and your attitude towards it. Bigger challenges that seemed “hard” took longer (doing 50 sit-up each day after breakfast), whereas smaller “easy” challenges (walking for 10 mins each day after breakfast) were quicker to embed.

In this sense 7 days may not seem like much however bear with me!

7 days may not break or make a habit, but what it will do is let you know if it is something that you want to do!

For some people trying to do something for a month is tough… Think of those “30 day abs/booty challenges” that many start but few finish.

On the other hand – one day simply isn’t enough of a challenge for most, as the majority of people would agree that they could do or go without something for a day (like their phone) as they can usually makes changes to their lifestyle for a day to ensure success.

7 days appears to be a happy medium ☺

It is generally long enough to mean that the new challenge has to take into account work and home life – so there may be a number of obstacles to overcome.

The trick is to reflect on your performance at the end of the week and assess how you did:
– Did you complete every day?
– What obstacles did you face?
– How are you feeling? Physically and emotionally.
– Do you want to continue?

The last two questions are key.

If you completed the challenge successfully but don’t feel any better for it then why continue?
Similarly, if you “failed” maybe once or twice, it may be that you have too many distractions or other more important things to do, or you may not currently in the right mindset to be able to succeed – so it would be sensible to postpone that challenge to see if it really is something you want, before trying again at a later date.
If you have learnt something from it – then it is not a failure 🙂

If however you completed the challenge and can see and feel a positive change then you may want to continue….. Maybe try a second week to be sure and if that is also successful, then try a whole month!

In this sense it’s a bit like try before you buy…… It’s a smaller commitment and will give you a good indication of whether you can, or even want to “buy” and make it a permanent change.

My Weekly Challenge

Last week I volunteered to cover a colleagues Bodycombat class. I was originally asked to cover with a circuits class, but being a combat fan and being a regular “warrior” I knew that this is not what the participants would want, so I set myself the challenge of learning the coaching aspects to be able to instruct the class.
I broke it down further learning 2 of the 10 tracks a day which would then give me two days practice at a full run through, or if it proved too much could then do circuits as suggested.
A week is in no way long enough to be an expert but I managed to do it and the class went well. I did make a couple of mistakes but the class knew me and we had a laugh about it afterwards.
The challenge has given me a huge insight into my abilities and I learnt a lot.
– I was able to make the time to study and practice on top of work and without affecting my social life too much.
– I was able to teach the class! One of my biggest fears was I would forget the teaching points and or the routine or wouldn’t be able to do the routine and talk at the same time. It was also the first time I had to consider instructor left and right! Very different to coaching circuits and Metafit.
– I loved it! I actually really enjoyed learning the routine and coaching notes, so much so, that I am now booking onto the instructor course as I want to do more!

My challenge this week is to do with diet.
Not a big change, simply trying to be dairy free – so no milk/cheese. Will let you know how I get on……

So what are you going to try before you “buy”?

Remember 7 days, keep it small and review at the end of the week.

Let me know how you get on.

For more tips on making and breaking habits head over to Huffington Post where there is a great article by Jeremy Dean