5 Keys to Developing Healthy Habits
BY: KELLY JOY FJESTAD
Almost every year since we moved to Texas in 2011, the North Dakota State University Bison football team has made it to the NCAA Division 1 championship game. This game is held at the Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX. The great thing about this is that every time the Bison make it to the game, my relatives come down to Texas to watch. It’s like a special gift from God every time family comes to visit.
Several years ago, when my family was here for the football game, we went to their hotel to spend some time together. While we were talking, one of my aunts mentioned she flossed her teeth every day. I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was, but to be honest, I thought flossing was something dentists told you to do, but no one ever really did.
That conversation lit a spark in my mind. I was going to start flossing. I was going to make it a habit. The next time I went to the dentist, I wasn’t going to have to lie! Ha! All it took was for someone I respected to share with me a habit they had, and I have flossed my teeth every day since.
I wish every habit was that easy to form.
The hard part about forming a habit isn’t the actual habit; it is changing your mindset. You see before I started flossing, I didn’t really believe it was that important. I didn’t see it was necessary. I don’t think I even thought it was possible to floss every day. But my aunt changed my mindset.
What habit are you wanting to start? Do you want to eat healthy? Read your Bible every day? Start exercising? Read a book? Learn a new skill?
I want to share with you Five Keys to Developing Healthy Habits:
Be honest about where you are currently at. What is holding you back from developing this habit? Don’t pretend to be better at it than you currently are. Lying to yourself will only delay the development of the habit.
Often times, we judge ourselves on our intent to do something. We give ourselves credit for wanting to change, but we never actually take the steps to change. This can hold us back from actually developing the healthy habits we want to make a regular part of our lives.
Give up the excuses. Recognize you alone are responsible for the outcome. You can’t control every circumstance in your life, but you can control how you respond to those circumstances. Do you let hard times hold you back or do you push ahead? Do you choose to respond like a victim, or do you choose to seek to gain victory in every situation?
Being honest about where you are currently at and where you want to go will help you develop healthy habits.
Developing healthy habits is easier when you have someone to walk the path with you. We were created to live in community. Share your goal with someone who cares about you. Find a friend who is willing to start this habit with you. Join a support group or go to a class with other people.
When you have someone, who can hold you accountable, you are more likely to develop healthy habits.
Don’t try to change everything at once! It can be tempting to try and fix everything you feel is wrong in your life all at once. But that can be extremely overwhelming! Make changes in small steps.
Shortly after we were married, we had dinner with a couple who was also recently married. She was showing me around their apartment, and we were talking about how she was managing the new responsibilities of marriage and caring for her home and work. She said she had decided to make her bed every day. By making her bed every day, she knew she had accomplished something. Even if the dishes didn’t get done, the laundry still needed to be washed, and the house was a mess, the bed looked good.
I was inspired. I don’t think I was making our bed at this point. I mean, why bother when you’re just going to crawl right back in at the end of the day. But I liked the idea of feeling like I had accomplished something each day. So, I decided to try it. That was the inspiration I needed. I have made my bed every day for the last eighteen years.
Making my bed was the first small step to a clean house. Once the bed is made, it is easier to grab the dirty clothes and throw them in the laundry. One thing leads to another, and often my entire bedroom is cleaned before I leave for the day. But, even if I don’t have time to clean the whole room, I can feel like I accomplished something for the day because my bed is made.
Be realistic about what you can change. Start with a small habit and watch it grow into a big habit!
We all need inspiration from time to time. What inspires you? An inspirational quote? A person who has succeeded in this area? Facts? Emotions? A beautiful picture? A book on the subject? Surround yourself with things that inspire you.
Buy that poster that says, “You Got This!” and hang it in your room. Buy the cute workout clothes that will inspire you to go for a run. Pick out cute dishes that will make you want to cook a healthy meal. Set a reward once you meet the goal. Read a book about the habit you want to develop. Create a cute bank to drop your coins in to help you save money.
Find something that inspires you to meet your goal!
Start today! Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today! Don’t think about how long it will take to make this new decision a habit. Just start today. Focus on what you can do today.
Most importantly, remember that YOU CAN DO THIS! It might seem hard. You might feel like you don’t have enough time, resources, or talent, but YOU GOT THIS! You were created to do hard things! You were created to beat the odds. You were created with enough self- discipline to develop healthy habits. If you fall, get back up and try again. Lean into Jesus. Pray. Ask God to give you the strength to change. Then, enjoy the fruit of your hard work! Healthy habits create healthy lives.
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT)
Kelly is a wife and mother of five children living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She is an ordained minister and author of PAUSED: Protecting Your Faith When God Says "Wait" and Pursuit: The Cross. For more info visit: kellyjoy.org