If you have recently gotten out of jail, or if you recently received a pardon, you probably want to take advantage of your new beginning. Incorporating healthy habits into your life can give you a sense of purpose and help you feel happier. But we all know that building habits can be hard. You might strive to be the best version of yourself, but we all know that the reality of this is difficult. On this page, I will give you a few ideas of healthy habits that you can start building, and how to achieve them. With some effort and support, you will be able to take advantage of your fresh start!
Best Habits to Build
You might have some habits in mind that you want to incorporate into your life. If not, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Exercise routine.
- Sleep eight hours.
- Drink enough water.
- Cut out caffeine.
- Cut out alcohol.
- Cut out drugs.
- Cut out sugar.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Stretching routine.
These are some of the most common good habits that people engage in to lead healthier lives. But how do you stick to your routines? How can you build a new habit? I’ll talk about a few of my favorite strategies in the next section.
Leo Babauta says that when you’re building a habit, you need to, “make it so easy you can’t not do it.”
Running every day is a big goal. Reading every day is a big goal. Going 0-100 might work for some people, but for most, it is best to break your goal up into more manageable chunks. Make your goal so easy that you can’t not do it.
For example, if you want to build a habit of running every day, start by walking. For the first week, go for a 10 minute walk. Easy. Then the next week, make it a 20 minute walk. The next week, start running for five minutes. Then 10. Then 20. Until you build up the habit of running every day.
If you want to read every day, start with one page. One page. Then five. Then ten. And so on.
Use a Checklist/Trigger
For many people, checking or crossing something off a list is incredibly satisfying. Just looking at that unchecked box is enough for some people to go and do the thing they are supposed to do. Personally, I have a habit tracker for the month that I write on a piece of paper. I have five or six habits that I am trying to build written on that paper. If I accomplish the task, I put a black dot next to it at the end of the day. If I don’t, no black dot. And for simple habits – like flossing – that is the difference between getting it done and just going to sleep.
A checklist can act as a sort of trigger for your habit. You see the unmarked box and it reminds you to go complete your task. There are other triggers that you can use. For example, if you want to build a habit of going to the gym, put gym clothes next to your work bag. This will remind you to go to the gym after work. If you want to start flossing every day, put the floss next to your toothbrush, so you remember to do it right before or after. Eventually you will associate these things with your new habit, and you will automatically do them.
Personally, I have been doing a gratitude exercise every night before bed since I was 13 years old. At this point, every time I lay down in bed, I automatically start my gratitude exercise. It has gotten to the point where if I get back up and get back into bed, I will start doing the exercise again, even if I just did it. Getting into bed is my trigger and my brain and body just starts the gratitude exercise automatically.
Have an Accountability Buddy
Having someone to support you in your new habits can be a game changer. Find others who share your ideals and want to build or have the same habits that you strive for. You can even make bets with friends or family members to hold you accountable. After college, I wanted to start an exercise routine. My friend wanted to do the same thing, so we were each other’s accountability buddies. If I missed a workout, I had to give him $5, and he had to do the same. This was extra motivation to build my gym habit.
Have the Right Mindset
While you don’t want to fail, it is a good idea to make a plan for what happens if you do not reach your goals. If you have a cheat meal or miss a reading session, will you give up? Or will you keep going?
If you make a mistake, have a plan in place to get back on track. Remind yourself that this is a long term project. In the grand scheme of things, one missed workout won’t ruin your progress. Just get back at it!
Are you ready for your fresh start? We can help you move on from a criminal conviction by assisting with a pardon or providing other resources. Learn more by contacting us.