Braden: Goodbye Fall, Hello Spring: How to Form Healthy Habits Now

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With the impending arrival of January 1, 2018, students everywhere are evaluating their shortcomings of the fall semester and making plans to make spring just a little better. For most students, these academically-geared New Year’s resolutions take precedence over some of the traditional pursuits our graduated friends and family ascribe to. Whether you plan on earning better grades next year by altering your study habits or desire to make massive gains in the gym, the formula for reaching these goals remains the same. Healthy habits must be formed to replace those currently unproductive tendencies, and in doing so, not only will you succeed in reaching your target, your standards for success will also change. In the spirit of the new year and its encroaching pressure to polish our past selves, here are four ways to develop habits conducive to maximizing personal capability.

Goal Setting:

To begin your path to betterment, start by making a comprehensive list of goals you intend to achieve, and try to integrate this ritual as frequently as your newfound criterion for individual worth permits. Included on the list should be realistic, long and short-term objectives as well as a plan detailing your intended route of accomplishment. A checklist of smaller goals reached might be a valuable motivator when the long-term goals in your plan appear out of reach. Working backward by visualizing the existence of the light at the end of the tunnel at the beginning of the journey will make the struggle to push forward a little more bearable. It will also provide you with one of the most important foundational habits; endurance.

Organization:

In order to keep track of progress and more importantly, one’s tested process, organization is vital. Hard copies of planned goals certainly help to remind the user of overall goal maintenance and habit progression, but today’s technology provides streamlined access to this information with exceptional ease. Time-sensitive tasks that would otherwise be confined to the calendar in your kitchen can be transferred to your smartphone complete with alarm reminders, advanced notifications and specialized applications that yield development statistics in real time. The ability of our phones to easily format our daily routines and prioritize the limited hours of our day leaves little excuse to not stay on course. Developing the habit of organization, like any good habit, takes persistence, but it is a crucial stepping stone on the road to success.

Persistence:

The single most applicable virtue needed to develop life-changing habits has to be persistence. Now, I’ve read different claims regarding the exact amount of time needed to not only acquire but maintain a healthy habit for years to come. Apparently, “21-30 days” seems to be a popular estimate. Regardless of these probably arbitrary numbers, one thing is for sure; habits reach culmination through a series of repetitions. Another arbitrary number regarding realistic habit development is the first of the year. Your eventual habit onset can embark its long, rewarding venture at any time, but be aware that while persistence remains the most potent tool in harboring one’s habit aspirations, procrastination is the biggest deterrent.   

Take Breaks:

The perks of forming and sticking with a rigid schedule are immense, but monotony will inevitably take hold. As a result, the efficiency of such a hard-lined routine might dwindle over time. Due to this, straying slightly from the course must be considered part of the general formula in actualizing our habits of improvement. Replacing a scheduled block to work on one’s habits for another productive activity or even some relaxation will positively affect general productivity. “Cheat days,” as serial dieters refer to them can come in the form of ditching any self-imposed requirement for at least a short spurt of time and can produce a much needed emotional recharge.

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