“Humans are creatures of habit.” How many times have you heard the saying? Since we’re creatures of habit, it would be a breeze to create good ones, right? Err, no. It takes more than knowing what habit you want to form to actually develop and make them stick.
Because we are creatures of habit, it can be very hard to change a behavior that has become second nature to us. But changing is necessary when those habits have consequences that are impacting our lives. If you have identified some habits that you need to break, you need to replace them with better ones.
Before you can make a change to any of your behaviors to create a good habit, it’s necessary to examine your existing habits. What do you need to add or subtract? For example, if you want to create the habit of exercising every morning, you need to identify what you are currently doing in the morning that you would no longer do. Discover your triggers and obstacles. What usually triggers your behaviors, and how do you react to them?
Here are some tips that will help you get started towards a better you:
Develop a Plan
Decide exactly when and where your behavior will take place. Intentions like “I will exercise more starting next week” is too vague. You have to set your intentions clearly and specifically. Then you need to device a strategic plan on how you will work on your new behavior. Give it a real slot in your schedule so it will be done when it should.
Creating a laundry list of the habits you want to do all at once is a recipe for failure. Instead, pick one habit that you want to change before you attempt to do another one. Creating a good habit requires effort, especially if you’re replacing a bad habit that has been established in your system for so long. Start so small that you hardly need willpower to do it. For example, instead of running on a treadmill for 30 minutes, you can start with 5 minutes. This will help establish the actual behavior first; then you can move to increase the effort once you get used to doing the new behavior every day.
Use Visualization and Affirmations
Visualizations and affirmations are great tools that make it easier for you to adopt a new behavior. They allow you to feel and imagine yourself already enacting the new habit, which helps your subconscious accept it and become automatic. This programs your subconscious to adopt the habit faster.
Make a conscious commitment that you will develop a new habit. That means that if you plan to eat a healthy breakfast every day, you should commit to doing it as scheduled, never missing a day. Invest effort and really get hooked on your habit. Mark your calendar every time you accomplish it, and soon, you will find a chain that you don’t want to break.
We develop bad habits because at some point they make us feel good, or they give us comfort. So when developing a good one, find a way to reward yourself for your small wins. Treat yourself to a movie or a spa. Buy something that you’ve always wanted to buy for yourself.
Make the reward appropriate to the goal – don’t use food as a reward for dieting! Rewarding yourself for doing well reaffirms and reinforces the behavior, so your subconscious soon begins to associate it with the pleasure of the reward.
Enlist support from your friends and family members. When the going gets tough, they are the ones who will motivate you to push forward. Surround yourself (metaphorically) with people who are on the same page as you, so you will be inspired to keep doing the behavior that you want to develop. This could be done with a conferencing tool during present quarantine limitations.
Developing a new good habit can really be difficult. There are times that you fail and think that you can’t do it anymore, but keep going and be consistent with your efforts. The longer you do it repeatedly, the better that the good behavior will stick. Once it becomes a habit, the good thing is that it will no longer require willpower or much effort as it already becomes automatic. Just keep going.
Read more about creating new habits here.