We’ve all have times when we thought to ourselves, “I’ve got to change my life.” And maybe you didn’t want to change your whole life. Maybe you want to change some bad habits you’ve acquired over the years. Maybe you’ve started to eat too many sweets or drink too much or your negative thinking has become a kneejerk reaction to any annoyances in your life. Let’s talk about how to create new habits and make them stick.
You’ve come to a point where you want to intentionally change your behavior for the better and create new habits for yourself. This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier and drinking more water. Or it could be moving more or waking up earlier. It could even be to stop dating Mr. or Ms. Wrong. Or you may be trying to create new habits that are work-related or spiritual. Name an area of your life and you’ve probably wanted to create new habits. There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits.
But starting new habits is not easy. Research shows that it actually takes longer than 21-days to ingrain a new habit into your life. Getting into the habit of doing something new 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 will make it easy to follow until you’ve internalized the new behavior and made it a true habit – something that you can then do automatically without having to think about, like brushing your teeth.
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 and limit yourself to picking up one new habit at a time. Don’t just tell yourself you want to exercise more. Instead, set your goal to 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.
Remind Yourself To Get It Done
The next 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 your 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 alert on your phone or add the new habit to your daily to-do list for a while. Enlist family or friends to help keep you honest. We’re more likely to keep our word to ourselves if someone else knows that we’ve made a commitment. Tell a friend who you know will call you on your BS.
Make It Part Of Your Routine Until It Becomes A Habit
Now for the last step! It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit. Until then, you’ll need to develop a routine. Before the new behavior becomes automatic, having 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 a part of your after-lunch routine, or change from grabbing a snack at the vending machine at work at 10:00 in the morning to packing a healthy snack. It also helps to make your new habit a part of your routine earlier in the day. Daily motivation is finite so you’re more likely to stick to your new habit if you can check it off your To Do list earlier in the day.
Congratulations, you’ve just formed a new habit! Decide to create a new habit, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new beneficial habit.
What are some of your tips to creating a new habit? Write it in the comments.