It doesn’t have to be the beginning of the year or the start of spring to embrace a new habit. We all have hopes for improving our routines and adding green choices into our day-to-day is undoubtedly on the list. Building sustainable habits for a positive life change can start today.
The trick to building sustainable habits is mindful steps and ongoing support. You can’t fast-track your journey to natural living, but you can make measured progress toward your goal.
While you may encounter setbacks along your journey, you can set up a framework to maintain healthy decisions. Check out this helpful guide to building sustainable habits.
“The trick to building sustainable habits
is mindful steps and ongoing support.
You can’t fast-track your journey to natural living,
but you can make measured progress
toward your goal.”
Notice the Potential for Growth
Before you decide to make a change, you’ll notice the areas you could improve. Maybe you’ve looked at the number of plastic water bottles sitting on your counter and thought, “I should stop using all these disposable products.” You probably didn’t sit down on the spot to construct a game plan, but you saw the need for growth.
Recognizing a desire for conscious living is an admirable first step. You’re warming up to the idea of a behavior shift, and that’s crucial. Consider how your life is going to look different because of this change.
This is the perfect time to research the pros and cons of these habit changes. Study up on why it’s beneficial to join in on Meatless Mondays or diminish your energy use. A behavior change with a purpose behind it is more likely to last than one without any real incentives. The next move is to turn this potential into a clear start.
Take Manageable Steps
With common consumption and cultural norms, it would be overwhelming to turn your life green in one day. It’s far more feasible to tackle one area at a time. You can avoid burnout and make your habits stick with smaller steps.
Preparing yourself for each habit change can help ease you into it. To start habitually turning off appliances when they’re not in use, you can write yourself little notes and place them on your light switches. Once you’ve mastered switching off the lights, you can move onto unplugging electronics when you’re finished using them.
Training yourself to change your behavior is a gradual process. Remembering your reusable grocery sack may take a couple of tries, but eventually, you won’t have to reach for another plastic grocery bag.
Maximize Your Environment
Setting influences your choices more than you’d think. No matter how much willpower you exercise, your surroundings can direct your actions. If you forget to pack a vegetarian lunch and there’s a burger place next to your workplace, you might be setting yourself up to falter.
Psychological research shows that familiar external cues can prevent you from growing and following your intentions. You can discipline yourself with reminders around your house or apartment.
The way you arrange your environment can create automatic tendencies. For example, to develop the practice of riding your bike to work, you can move your car keys and replace them with your bike gear.
When you start to challenge yourself and make progress, you have plenty of excitement to go around. However, as time goes on, the smoothie maker you bought for your plant-based diet might begin to look less shiny and appealing. Your enthusiasm can wane, which is where motivational tools can come in handy.
Tracking your progress is a major source of motivation. You can start to feel small payoffs during the action phase of adopting a new habit. A sense of ongoing achievement can help you maintain these intentional changes, and this feeling lasts around six months.
Your circle of friends and family can also inspire you to keep up your habits. Encouragement from loved ones can spur you on despite your interest level. Find useful methods to drive you toward success when you’re feeling apathetic.
Getting into a rhythm with your new habit takes time, but with dedicated practice, you can make sustainable changes a permanent part of your life. Repetition leads to a subconscious acceptance of the behavior.
You may have heard the myth that it takes 21 days to acquire a habit, but research says otherwise. In one study where volunteers implemented a behavior change, it took them anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form an automatic tendency. Also, a slipup didn’t throw off the whole process, meaning persistent practice is stronger than a mistake or two.
The truth is that a habit-forming period isn’t fixed in place. Each person takes a different number of days to cultivate a behavior change. Focus on your long-term goal of living naturally rather than getting waylaid by minor distractions.
Ideas for Sustainable Habits
Integrating mindful behavior into your routine can be intimidating. Which habit should you start with? Is it better to revamp your diet or minimize waste? You can take comfort in the fact that moving forward with any sustainable habit deserves praise. To assist you in choosing a starting place, here are some suggestions for eco-friendly practices:
- Start getting serious about recycling.
- Adopt a plant-based diet.
- Cut plastic out of your life.
- Embrace minimalism.
- Carpool to work.
Develop a Healthy Habit Today
Forming a lasting habit takes dedication, practice and time, but building a sustainable lifestyle is worth the effort. You can benefit yourself and the Earth as you alter your behavior. Pick a healthy habit and begin working on it today.
About the Author
Emily covers topics in sustainability and green living. You can read more of her work on her site, Conservation Folks.
What are your favorite tips for developing sustainable habits?
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