Don’t let the clichés of unmaintainable New Year’s Resolutions get you down this year! By turning the habits that you want to adopt into a 21-day challenge, not only do you make it more fun and exciting, but you also increase the likelihood of having the habit actually stick. Read on to find out how to create great habits this year with Merrell.
Why 21 days?
It takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit, assuming that the habit is fairly simple.
So while this timeframe will certainly not cut it if you want to go from a sedentary lifestyle to running 10 km every day for 21 days. It can, however, help if you’re going from a sedentary lifestyle to just running (even if it’s just around the block) every day for 21 days.
By making the commitment to one habit for 3 weeks without exceptions, you are ensuring consistency in the formative stages of habit creation – which will make the habit a lot easier to continue thereafter.
How to succeed at starting a new habit
If you are generally a self-motivating person, one of the ways to stay on track with your new habit is to create a narrative around it for yourself.
Rather than saying ‘I want to run every day’ or ‘I want to wake up earlier every day’ or ‘I want to drink more water’, try:
- I am an avid runner
- I am an early riser
- I always stay hydrated
By making the habit a part of your identity, you will start talking (to yourself and to others) as if you already have the habit that you are after, which will in turn make it easier to just do it.
It also adds to the excitement in that you won’t constantly feel as though you have a long, difficult journey ahead. Instead, you can simply continue doing one of the things that makes you you.
2. Mini habits
The trick to conquering your habit goals is to understand the complexity of the outcome – and to be realistic about achieving it.
If you are starting the habit of running because you want to be able to run 10 km every day, understanding that this will take time is the first step. Next, you break it into a number of mini-habits.
In this case, your mini habits would depend on what time in the day you will be running. Let’s say you choose straight after work as your running time slot. Your first mini habit might be using your lunch break to change into your running clothes and fill your water bottle. Your second mini habit will then be to leave straight after work to run 500 metres or 1 km.
If you can do these two adjoined mini habits for 21 days straight, you can build on it. Maybe you want to run in the morning and the evening, or you want to start running 5 km after work every day for the next 21 days.
It might also help you understand journalist and author Charles Duhigg’s anatomy of a habit, also called a ‘habit loop’.
Any habit that you already have can be divided into three parts: a cue, a behaviour, and a reward.
For example, if waking up is your cue, brushing your teeth is the behaviour, and the reward is having clean and healthy teeth.
So maybe instead of starting a new habit, you could take a ‘bad’ habit that you’re trying to shake and replace it with a good one. For example, if you’re trying to drink less fizzy drinks and drink more water, it might look like this:
- Cue – Sitting down for a meal
- Behaviour – Pour a glass of cool drink Pour a glass of water
- Reward – Quenching your thirst with your meal
The main factor that turns 21 days of starting a new habit into a 21-day challenge is accountability. If you rope your social media community in and post every day for 21 days, you might be more likely to find motivation on days that are difficult.
And if social media isn’t your thing, you can bring your family or partner in on it – they could either join you on your challenge or be there supporting and encouraging you.
Another way to hold yourself accountable and maintain the incentive is to have a rule: If you miss a day, you have to start all over again from day 1 of 21.
Inspired to start the year on the right note but unsure of where to start?
Here have a few ideas of habits you can try to incorporate in your life – 21 days at a time.
- Stretch every hour when working
- Start every morning by drinking 500 ml of water
- Only take the stairs at your apartment building or office
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day
- Add at least one vegetable to your daily dinner meal
- Replace your afternoon coffee with decaf
- Replace a sugary snack with fruit
- Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night
- Do 5 minutes of meditation or mindfulness exercises daily
- Stop screen-time from phones and laptops 30 minutes before bedtime
- Write in a journal once a day
- Start recycling your glass bottles or disposable plastic
So if you’re ready to change your life, one habit at a time, make sure you’re equipped with only the best footwear from Merrell. From hiking and walking shoes to trail-running, we’ve got you covered – all you need to focus on is your 21-day habit challenge!