Most women are really motivated to eat well, exercise, and maintain a healthy lifestyle in pregnancy. You may have signed up for yoga, or stocked your fridge with fresh vegetables. So you’ve got this, right?
No, of course not. If it were that easy to create good habits, everyone would be perfect.
Achieving your highest potential is a process
I’m not just talking about managing pregnancy, but about habits in general, good and bad. The truth is that living at your highest potential – where you’re healthy, happy, and productive – is a process, not a quick fix.
And what stops us before we even start is that big changes feel overwhelming and difficult. Furthermore, when we make extreme changes overnight, they are not usually sustainable long-term. Extremes are exhausting. Then when we slide back into familiar comfortable practices, we feel like failures. Sound familiar? What if I told you that it doesn’t have to play out like that? What if, instead of trying to move mountains, we commit to taking a few tiny, doable steps?
That’s the idea behind micro-habits. You can make big changes just by making a series of small ones. Tasks that are so small that you have no excuse not to do them. When you keep these small promises to yourself, you gain confidence and self-respect.
And when you make a small commitment, you will occasionally over-deliver. If you commit to just one lap around the block, sometimes it turns into two. Just remember, all you have to do is the small thing. No beating yourself up if that’s all you can manage. Try to associate your new habit with a trigger – something you do or experience every day (a meal, a commute, a ringing phone). Here are some examples of small habits that can add up to big successes.
- Eat one salad daily. Sometimes it’s easier to add a good food than to eliminate a bad one. And now there is a little less room for junk food.
- Swap one sweet drink for a glass of water daily.
- Swap one refined carb for a better one, just once a day.
Bag of chips with lunch?Bibbity-bobbity-BEANS!
- Do you have a sweet tooth? Eat one less cookie a day, or one bite less of a sweet snack. Just one bite less.
- Walk to your mailbox and back. Or to the end of the driveway and back.
- Put on exercise clothes once a day. I’m not kidding. Just put them on. Once the clothes are on, you are more likely to exercise. But you don’t have to. This week at least. Work up to it if you need to.
- One lap around the block.
- Climb one flight of stairs.
- Spend one minute getting rid of clutter. Open any drawer. Throw stuff out. Sixty seconds. Go.
- Read one page of a book.
- Want to learn a language? Try Duolingo.com. They have a website and mobile device app that let you spend just a few minutes a day learning a language. Anything from Spanish to Hindi. Even Klingon.
- Reach out to one person and say hi. Let someone know you’re thinking about them.
- For one conversation daily, make eye contact, listen, and be fully present with that person.
- Tell one person something positive. You will make their day. I texted my hair stylist last week when I was having a good hair day, just to thank her.
- Whenever a phone rings, take a deep breath, exhale slowly.
- When you get home every evening, think of the best thing that happened today. Bask in that for a moment.
- During lunch, find a quiet place and close your eyes for one minute. Set a timer. Just space out. Let go of whatever you’re brooding about. Be still and know, just for one minute, that you are precious and life is full of possibility.
Making sudden drastic changes and seeing fast results is exciting and sexy. But trust me, small boring habits get the job done much more reliably. Don’t choose more than 3-5 micro-habits, otherwise, you will be making it harder and defeating the purpose. These should be little practices that you can do every single day. That series of wins creates momentum. And before you know it, you’ll be speaking Klingon! Or achieving whatever is most important to you. Make your own checklist and give it a try.