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Can an Old Dog Learn New Tricks? How to Change Your Habits as You Age

by Northern Life

The old adage is true; old habits do die hard. Trying to change your habits can be a long process with several stages. However, adopting better habits or trying to change existing ones can protect you from serious health problems down the line. If you have a history of health issues or you have indulged in some bad habits in the past, then making a few changes to your lifestyle can help to minimise your risk. This isn’t to say that it won’t be hard, but anything worth doing usually is. Need help changing your habits? Read on to learn more.

Contemplating Making Changes

This is the first step towards changing your habits. You need to start considering what changes you want to make and how they will improve your well-being. Making the leap from thinking about these changes to implementing them can take time. Thinking about the pros and cons of changing your habits can be helpful to some people. How would your life be better for them? Think about the benefits that they can offer to your health.

The changes that you want to make are entirely up to you. Maybe you want to try to eat more healthily or exercise regularly. You might want to try to cut down on your drinking or quit smoking. Learning more about the benefits of doing so can act as a huge motivator. For example, details all the benefits of quitting smoking as well as offering advice on how to do so successfully. Resources like this can be invaluable when it comes to arming yourself with the facts.

Preparing to Take Action

The next stage is when you begin to look at ways to implement the changes that you have already thought about. It might help if you have specific goals in mind that you want to meet. They can help you to think about putting your plan into action. How can you make a plan and act on it? This is where you should start to think about the roadblocks that you might encounter so that you can come up with a plan to deal with them.

You need to come up with solutions to help you surpass the obstacles that you will likely encounter. For example, if your aim is to exercise more, you might think that you are going to struggle to find the time. Or if you want to eat better, then you might wonder where you will find the money to pay for the ingredients that you need. These obstacles are often legitimate concerns, but they can also be used as excuses. By making a plan and preparing as best, you can, you are giving yourself the best chance to overcome these obstacles and be successful in your new endeavours. You might find it easier to start small, taking steps towards your goals.

Implementing the Changes

The third stage is all about taking action. You use the things that you have learnt and prepared for in the previous stages and put them to use. Making changes is not easy, and you should be commended for putting in the effort to make changes to your lifestyle. Put your plan into practise slowly, and be sure to track your progress as you go. It helps you to identify your strengths and weaknesses; your plan can then be adjusted accordingly. Record what you did and what you felt while doing it. Checking in with your feelings can play a key role in helping the habits to stick. Monitoring your progress can help you maintain your progress and identify any potential setbacks that will stop you from meeting your goal. There are a number of apps or methods that you can use to keep track depending on your goals, from fitness trackers to smoking cessation apps.

As mentioned above, you will experience roadblocks; however, you have done a lot of the hard work already in identifying them and coming up with solutions. These backup plans are important; for example, if your goal is to get fitter, you could go to the gym, work out outdoors or at home to online videos, depending on the time you have, what you can afford and the weather. Sometimes it can be as easy as reminding yourself why you wanted to make these changes to start with. Remember to ask for help when you need it too.

Finally, remember to reward yourself. When you reach a new milestone or goal, then reward yourself with something. These little treats can act as motivators to encourage you on your journey. Although you should choose your rewards carefully. Some rewards might encourage you to take up new unhealthy habits. For example, if you reward yourself with food items, you might soon find that you have swapped one bad habit for another.

Maintaining These Changes

This is the last stage. You enter this stage when you have made these changes and kept them up for at least six months. They should by now have become a part of your routine. You may have had slip-ups, but you should have gotten back on track and made it past them. Making your future, a healthy one is important. Forming better habits is a lifelong endeavour – not a one-off event. Make sure to keep an eye on your efforts and check in with yourself. Now that they are becoming more routine for you, it is all about keeping things interesting and finding ways to cope. Adding variety into your routine can be helpful. For example, if your goal is to get more exercise, then changing up your workouts can help. If you are trying to eat better, then trying new recipes could be the way to go. If your goal is to cut back on alcohol, then you could try some new mocktails or alcohol-free drinks. Lastly, if you are trying to quit smoking, then vaping might help or changing your routine to remove triggers might also help.

You might still experience setbacks even at this stage; it is normal. Planning ahead can help you to avoid them. If possible, you should still be able to use the solutions that you came up with earlier. Remember, a setback doesn’t mean failure. You shouldn’t give up; they can happen to anyone. Even if you relapse, regroup and refocus on your goals. Finally, don’t forget to challenge yourself. If you meet your goals, then change or expand them. This continually gives you something to work towards and helps to keep you motivated.

In The End

It is totally normal to pick up a bad habit or two over time; almost everyone can relate to this. Some habits, however, are worse than others, and it is not always easy to remedy them. Furthermore, the older you get, the more ingrained these habits become. Using the above advice can help you make sustainable lifestyle changes that will help you work towards a healthier future. It takes a little effort, but in the end, it is worth it to ensure that you will be around for your family for years to come.