Most of us, especially the adventurous types, enjoy setting ourselves a challenge – 4 day juice detox, 30 day plank challenge, climbing a mountain or running a marathon. We’re no strangers to pushing ourselves to the limit. Challenges are a great way to lightening-bolt us into action and help us introduce positive behaviours into our lives.

The thing about setting fitness and health goals is that most of time there is a definitive start and stop. To make sure the ‘stop’ is not permanent and that you carry the behaviours you picked up along the way for the rest of your life, you’ll need to form a habit.

Habits extend beyond goal setting and become natural behaviours that we can follow endlessly, without decision or debate.

Eating healthier, exercising regularly, pursuing our passion, being better towards one another—these are all behaviours we strive to carry out. So what does it take to keep up these behaviours over a lifetime?

It’s not as hard as you might think. Here are our top tips for forming behaviours that stick with you well beyond the finish-line.

Get to know yourself

First, engage in self-inquiry. Habits are personal, and it will take a personal approach. If you are more of a lark than an owl, schedule your exercise for the morning, or vice-versa. Work with your natural tendencies, not against them. Some people prefer exercising alone and find it’s a time of space and silence. Others need to exercise with people; it helps distract them and also holds them accountable. There is no use in aiming to be inside at a gym all night lifting weights if you’re more of an outdoor person. Find out what works for you and run with it!

Pay attention to starting points and finish lines

Whenever you go through any big changes in your life – a change of scene, job or relationship, you’re in a unique space to create and sustain better habits. A clean slate can make it much easier for you to adopt new behaviours. Signing up to a fitness challenge is a great way of creating a fresh start. From the moment you commit, your actions are all geared towards that goal. Use this new lease on life to build positive patterns.

Finish lines can also be a great tool for goal setting and long-term behaviour changes. However, finish lines can be dangerous too. Finish lines tend to disrupt habits as they are marked with a clear stopping point, and stopping points make us vulnerable. For most of us, finish lines mark success. Once we’ve decided we’ve achieved enough, we tend to stop moving forward. It is really important to have a game plan for after you cross the finish line. If you are on a 30-day yoga challenge – day 31 is the most important.

Strategy = success

There is no one-size-fits all formula for rapid and permanent change in behaviours. There are however, dozens of different strategies you can try to help influence your path towards a more positive direction.

Recognise triggers and how to avoid them. If they are unavoidable, make a strong ‘If-Then’ game plan to avoid on-the-spot justifications at times of weakness.

If I have to stay at work late and miss my gym class…
Then I will go for a run before dinner

If it is raining outside and I can’t go for a run…
Then I will do an online yoga class at home

If I miss a day because I’m sick…
Then I will focus on recovery and go for a short run when I feel up for it.

Another strategy for success is loophole spotting. There’s a loophole for every occasion. Even when we’re deeply committed to a good habit and enjoy it, we often seek justification to excuse ourselves from it…just this once!

I’ve Been So Good loophole – You are not entitled to something ‘bad’ because you have been so ‘good’.

I’ll start tomorrow loophole – It doesn’t matter what I eat tonight, because I’ll be good tomorrow. Or, I’ll rest today because tomorrow I’ll do a really big workout. Don’t let yourself play this game of ‘later’.

Loopholes are not on your side. At the end of the day, you need to make sure that your behaviours are ones that make you feel healthier and happier, not worse. If your actions aren’t aligned with your intentions, something’s got to give.

There are some great kick-starter ways to form habits, for example setting yourself a challenge like an Inspired Adventure is a brilliant place to start.

Remember: good habits have no finish line.

Feeling inspired? Take on an Inspired Adventure’s marathon challenge! Call us on 1 300 905 188 to see which places are currently available!