Barbara Mayfield, MS, RD, LD, FAND
Creating habits to succeed at your goals? Keep things fresh.
Habits are successful because… well, because they are habits. We do them with little thought and minimal effort. However, a habit may lose its appeal over time if it starts feeling mundane and we lose our enthusiasm for keeping it up.
This post will explore the importance of keeping our habits fresh by trying novel approaches. The essence of our habits is maintained, we simply perform them in new ways. Novelty can be a powerful habit hack.
Habits getting old and stale? Try something new.
Trying a novel approach to maintain a positive habit is based on the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change AKA the Stages of Change. In the maintenance phase, we can slip up if we become bored with performing the behavior. The recommendation is to try something new.
Let’s look at some examples of behaviors that benefit from novelty…
Eating habits can become very routine. After all, we eat multiple times daily. It is not uncommon for meals like breakfast and lunch to vary minimally from day to day.
To make meal planning for dinner easier, it is common to use a menu planning rotation such as Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, and on and on… week after week after week. Our rotation of entrees and side dishes may become stale and feel a lot like the same old same old.
We may be meeting our nutritional needs just fine but are finding ourselves bored with being in a meal rut. This is a healthy habit that is losing its luster.
If this describes your situation, it’s time to try new foods and new recipes. Experiment with one new thing a week or one new thing a month. A little novelty can go a long way.
Fitness routines can be similarly routine. If you’re getting bored, try something new: water aerobics, a dance class, or a new walking route.
Professional skills and habits can also become stale and in need of an update. Sign up for a course to learn a new skill. Experiment with new productivity apps. Join a Mastermind group to get new ideas.
New approaches may lead to improved habits.
Trying new approaches to habits not only keeps our habits fresh and fun but may also lead to improved habits and better ways to meet a goal. What made an old habit a best practice in the past, may easily have been replaced with advances in understanding what is best practice today.
New foods and new recipes can add variety to our diet and broaden our sources of key nutrients and improve intakes of shortfall nutrients like fiber or calcium.
New fitness routines can build muscles that may have been neglected and improve our physical skills, flexibility and balance. Not to mention improve our mental health and self-esteem.
It pays to assess our everyday habits on a regular basis to determine if an update is needed. Changes should be made because we will be more successful, not just to follow a trend.
Your turn to try something new.
What habit may be feeling old and stale? What could you try to liven things up? Set aside some time to research one or more novel approaches to try and set a date to put them into practice. Keep things fresh.
This post completes our series on creating habits to achieve our goals. If you missed any previous posts, here is a link to each one:
“Just try new things. Don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zones and soar, all right?” ~ Michelle Obama
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