M - MAKE IT LAST - SUSTAIN THE CHANGES

 

We're often told it takes time to form new habits, or to make new behaviours stick. I’ve heard it takes 21 days of consistently bombarding yourself with a new habit before it sticks. Others say 28 days. And if you miss a day, you have to start the count over.

It actually takes more than just practice over time to make a new habit or behaviour stick. You need to believe in it. If it goes against your belief system or your values, no amount of practice will make it stick. For instance, if it’s suggested that you recite positive affirmations to yourself, but you don’t believe this works or you feel silly doing it, you probably won’t keep it up.

It also needs to be a good fit for you. A habit such as walking daily won’t stick if you dislike going for a walk. You’ll start making excuses, delay doing it, and eventually realize you’ve stopped altogether. Maybe for you a bike ride would have more sticking power.

The RECLAIM Program covers a number of other factors that are important to help with maintaining change over time. Here are some more ideas in this FAQ.

 

I HAVE GOOD INTENTIONS TO MAKE CHANGES IN MY LIFE, BUT THEY NEVER SEEM TO LAST. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR ME?

Welcome to being human! Everyone, even professional athletes, experience times when they don’t practice as often as they believe they should, or lose motivation.

The best thing to do is to expect this to happen. Once you recognize things have slipped, acknowledge it (without berating yourself) and get back on track.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

- Keep a written list of the strategies and techniques that you find beneficial, like your own personal formula or toolkit. That way if you realize you’ve slipped, or if aren’t coping too well one day, you can go to your list and pick a strategy to use right in that moment.

- As you implement the RECLAIM Program, you need to give any new technique or strategy a try for at least one to two weeks, preferably even a month. Think of it as running an experiment. You will know at the end of this month whether this technique is a fit for you. If it is, add to your list of things that work for you. If it doesn’t work for you, move on to other ideas.

- Figure out if you’re a schedule person, a list person, a spontaneous person, or what makes you tick. Then use that as a model for yourself to help make change last. For instance a list person might put two or three coping strategies on their list of things to do on a given day. If this list gets finished by the end of the day, these strategies will have been used.

- If you have a strong support system, you may be able to use this to help you. For instance if you want to go for a walk every day, you might find people to walk with. Or if you know they’ll be asking you at the end of the day if you went for your walk, and you don’t want to disappoint them by saying no, this may provide you with motivation to get it done during the day.