my methods for creating new habits:
Many of the top influencers say that it takes 30 days to create a new habit, often related to fitness or diet. Personally, it takes me 60-90 days of consistency before something is truly integrated into my routine. I know this because I’ve attempted to stop drinking soda dozens of times in my life without success, and finally accomplished this goal with a “Last 90 Days” challenge (created by Rachel Hollis, the author of “Girl, Wash Your Face”). My final soda (a Diet Dr. Pepper, which is my favorite) was on October 1st, 2018. I’m so proud of myself! The crazy thing is that I’m still tempted at times. I still have to remind myself that I no longer drink soda, and that I’m happy I quit…. and it’s been SIX MONTHS! Maybe it takes me more time than others to make changes and create new habits, or maybe this is true for most people and the reason why achieving goals, breaking bad habits, and making positive changes can be so hard.
My story isn’t particularly unique — I’m a 35 year old single mother of three. I’ve survived a messy divorce and work very hard to balance my career, family, and personal needs. I’ve lived with body image issues, low self esteem, and unhealthy eating habits. I’ve struggled with loneliness, difficulty sleeping, and faced an overwhelming sense of fear for my life, future, and children.
I felt like I was being swallowed whole by the darkness and unhappiness that lead to my divorce. It was like I was sleep-walking through my life. Surviving is not living, it’s just the act of holding on. I was envious of everyone around me who was happy and moving forward in their lives, while I was pretending to be ok.
“No one knew the battle she fought inside of her every day, but no matter how dark it got, she kept her smile and shined her light for anyone who needed it, even though she knew she was the one who needed it the most.”
Maybe the best thing about myself is that I’m optimistic no matter my circumstances. I’ve held onto hope and faith for my life and future despite the hurt I’ve faced, and have refused to let the brokenness of my past negatively impact my future. But hope alone doesn’t move you forward. It doesn’t heal the hurt, and it doesn’t make changes. So, I set little daily goals for myself – first it was as simple as eating three meals a day, making my bed, and speaking more kindly to myself. Then I started reading self-improvement and inspirational books, listening to pod casts, and going to the gym more frequently.
The “Last 90 Days” challenge was a game-changer for me, so when December 31, 2018 arrived, I didn’t want to stop. I created a “First 90 Days” program for myself, with different challenges because the others had integrated themselves into my life and become new habits. I started the New Year with excitement, goals, and a plan.
I believe that anyone can achieve their goals and dreams by starting small and being consistent!
For me, the key to success is physically tracking my goals.
The first time I missed something I was so upset with myself. I discovered (with denial, regret, and sadness) that I’ve always expected perfection from myself, which has resulted in a lifetime of never measuring up. I’ve lived my entire life feeling like I wasn’t good enough (as a child with sibling comparison and religious guidelines, into adulthood with failed relationships and lost dreams). Because I’m on a journey to love myself and improve… to truly “face the pain and forgive myself” (part of my “Happiness Project”), I had to face this hard reality and give myself permission to “fail” without feeling like a failure. There is success in effort and consistency, and so much joy, peace, comfort, and happiness when living as my “best today” instead of striving for perfection. I feel like I’m recovering from a perfectionism illness, and catch myself falling back into negative self-talk when I disappoint myself. Life is definitely a journey of highs and lows, and I’m doing a better job of seeing each day as a new opportunity to be the best version of my imperfect self.