Learn 3 easy steps you can take to form new habits and several simple things you can do to ensure you keep them.
In my continual effort to better myself, I have been looking to form some new habits. I think we all have times in our lives where we intentionally want to change our behavior for the better and create new habits for ourselves. This could mean getting in the habit of eating healthier, drinking more water, or it could be becoming more active and taking the dog for a daily walk. Maybe it could be work related, or spiritual, or…you get the picture. There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if only we created new habits.
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Getting into the habit of doing something is often easier said than done. We seem to acquire bad habits without any effort but getting into a “good” habit can be a little more challenging.
Let’s break it down into a three-step process that makes it easy to follow until we’ve made the new behavior into a true habit – something we do automatically without having to think about, like brushing our teeth.
1. Decide What You Want to Do
The first step is to decide what you want that new habit to be. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just tell yourself you want to exercise more. Instead, say something like “I will go for a 30 minute walk every single day”. Deciding what your new habit will be and committing to when and how you’re going to do it, is half the battle.
2. Remind Yourself to Get It Done
The first few days should be smooth sailing. You’re motivated and excited to get this done. Sticking to your new habit isn’t an issue. But in a few days, you’ll notice that it’s easy to slip back into old habits.
Maybe it’s raining and you don’t really want to go out and walk, or maybe your day just gets away from you. This is when it’s important to have a daily reminder. Set an alarm on your phone or add the new habit to your daily to-do list for a while.
3. Make It Part of Your Routine Until It Becomes a Habit
It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. Even before the new behavior becomes automatic, a routine will help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower or relying on daily reminders.
Make that daily walk part of your after dinner routine or change from grabbing a snack at the vending machine at work at 10:00 in the morning to packing a healthy snack.
Decide to create the new habit, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit. But as we all know, creating new habits isn’t always easy. Here are five simple hacks that will make it a little easier. Use them until you’ve internalized the new habit and don’t need them anymore.
Make It Public and Be Accountable
Let family and friends know what new habits you’re trying to establish. They will call you out if you don’t stick to your plan and get you back on track.
You may even go as far as sharing it publicly on Facebook or write a blog about your new journey. Knowing that others read it and know about it might be just enough to keep you going when you feel like throwing in the towel.
Add It to a Habit You Already Have
Whenever possible, add the new habit to one you already have. For example, if you fix a cup of tea or coffee at 4pm, and you want to get in the habit of taking a daily walk, make the new ritual to go for your walk and then come back and enjoy your tea.
It’s much easier to amend an existing habit or ritual than to create an entirely new one.
Make Slip Ups Costly
Here’s a fun idea. Put a jar on the kitchen counter and each time you slip back into your bad habit or forget to stick to the new one you must put five dollars in the jar. It will quickly help you remember to skip that sugary food and motivate you to go out for that walk. For extra motivation, donate the money to a favorite charity at the end of the month.
Find a Partner and Help Each Other Along
Find someone with the same or similar goal. This could be a workout partner or a diet buddy. Keep tabs on each other and encourage each other to keep going. It’s much harder to skip a walk if you know someone else is depending on you being there.
Make It a Group Challenge
If one accountability partner is good, a whole group is even better. And they don’t even need to be local. Find a supportive group online and challenge each other to stick to your new habit for the next 30 days or so. Not wanting to be the first one to give up will keep all of you going until you establish that new habit.
Give these simple little hacks a try. Keep using the ones that you find helpful until you have made new habits you can stick with without the help of any tools or support.
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What new habits would you like to form? Let me know in the comments below.