Let’s be real: people don’t want to create short-term habits. People want to create healthy lifestyle habits that truly encompass their entire lifestyle, their way of being and interacting with the world. I don’t want to eat fresh vegetables for a 30-day vegetable detox; I want to eat fresh vegetables as part of a healthy lifestyle habit that I default to, without having to motivate myself to do it.
That “needing to motivate myself” part? That’s what trips so many of us up when it comes to creating lifestyle habits that we can truly lean into without a ton of effort. When we constantly need to motivate ourselves, we’re going to quickly exhaust ourselves—and that’s why including habit-formation strategies into your desires to create a life where you live each day with courage is essential.
Lifestyle Habits : What Lifestyle?
What lifestyle do you actually want? I refer to the part of you that makes bold moves and lives with courage rather than complacency the “Most Courageous Self.” That Most Courageous Self knows what she wants, what she’d do with her life if she had no self-doubt or hesitation to face.
Some people have a Most Courageous Self that quietly knows it’s time to leave something behind: the job, the marriage, the lifestyle that isn’t really “her.” Others have a Most Courageous Self that wants to look at a personal pattern—a pattern of self-sabotage, of people-pleasing, or of getting overwhelmed and giving up.
So stop and ask yourself: if you wanted to create a better life, what would it look like? What do you want more of, and what do you want less of?
Habits for a Healthy Lifestyle
Of course, when I’m talking about a “healthy lifestyle” in this post, I’m talking about something that goes way beyond exercise or eating vegetables. Of course, those things are part of living a healthy lifestyle, but I want something deeper for you. Something like:
– Trusting yourself to make the right decisions, even when those decisions seem difficult.
– Speaking what’s true for you, rather than people-pleasing or saying “yes” when you don’t really want to.
– Having more fun! Really allowing yourself to have fun with creative expression, being your authentic self with others, or relax and cut loose.
– Going after the big dreams without getting so overwhelmed or stuck in self-doubt that you end up losing momentum or giving up altogether.
Habits always start with a trigger, a cue. They follow with a routine (a response to the cue) that is designed to get to the reward.
What if your self-doubt is just…an old habit? What if the way you talk to yourself, or how you always put other people’s needs in front of yours, is just a fear-based habit that could be changed?
It can be. You can create a new, healthier lifestyle through healthier habits that actually support your mental state.
You can create the habit of thinking, “Even if I don’t know what I’m doing, this dream is worth pursuing.”
You can create a habit of saying to others, “I’m holding off on saying ‘yes’ just now, until I have a chance to pause and really think things through” rather than agreeing just to be agreeable.
A Better Life
When your daily habits are things that nourish you, like making time for having fun and going after the things that matter to you, most, then you stop waiting to feel inspired before you take action. You just take action—courageous action.
In fact, to create a healthy lifestyle–one that truly is a full-on lifestyle and not just an exercise routine–IS courageous. It’s courageous to ask yourself what you want, most (the work of the Most Courageous Self). It’s courageous to start examining the fear-based habits you default to and then decide to start practicing courageous habits, instead.
I don’t discourage other forms of work—I see the work of habit-formation as being done alongside other work. It’s a strategic approach that gives you more clarity for getting unstuck. When you can see the habits that I keep playing out, over and over, that don’t support your life, and replace those habits with courageous habits, then you’ve got a real shot at change that truly lasts.