Habits and Chains

Positive habits.

If setting goals is so useful, how come we don’t do it?

Setting goals can leave some people feeling trapped, especially if it feels they’re pushing themselves to do something they’re not sure about. Also, we might feel worse if we don’t achieve our goals.

If you feel reluctant to set goals, you could always focus on the way you get things done instead.

For example, if we want to lose weight, we can set a weight loss goal, or we can work to establish healthier habits. Either could bring the results we want.

For weight loss, relevant habits might be:

  • Buying more vegetables.
  • Eating out less.
  • Eating fruit instead of sweets.
  • Walking for 15 minutes each day.

If we want to be more fit, rather than setting goals of distance, weight or repetitions, focus on strengthening the habit of taking regular exercise.

Don’t break the chain.

We can make healthy habits easier by starting a chain. Take a printed calendar and place it where you’ll see it every day. Keep a marker pen with the calendar.

Each day on which you do your healthy behaviour, mark a tick on your calendar.

Seeing your success each day, and the desire not to break the chain, can be powerful motivators.

Another way to use chaining is to chain one habit after another. For example, getting out of bed is followed by stretching exercises, which is followed by brushing teeth, which is followed by identifying your top three priorities for the day … and so on.

Making healthy behaviours into habits helps us get them done with a minimum of effort, reducing the cognitive load, or the “thinking work” we have to do to get something done.

Written by: SC.
Written on: 20 May 2019.
Last updated on: 06 June 2019.
Checked by: JL.
Checked on: 06 June 2019.
Date for review: May 2021.
Flesch Reading Ease: 72.