Have you ever tried to create a new habit? Most of us have, I think. Just like all those people setting lofty New Year’s Resolutions, we often fail before we can get that good and healthy habit established. Creating new habits feels so difficult!
We all have times in our lives where we intentionally want to change our behavior for the better and creating new habits for ourselves is one step we take towards positive change.
This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier and drinking more water. Or it could be moving more and taking the dog for a daily walk. Or it could be work related, or spiritual, or financial or … the list goes on.
There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits.
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 internalized the new behavior and made it a true habit – something we do automatically without having to think about, like brushing our teeth.
Step 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. “More” is such a vague word that it does not settle into our minds and change anything. We can easily justify anything as “more”. I walked to the end of my hundred foot driveway …. yesterday … that’s walking more, isn’t it?
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.
Step 2 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 a few days in 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 alert on your phone or add the new habit to your daily to-do list for a while.
Personally, I rely heavily on Google calendar to keep me on track. It syncs seamlessly to all devices and changes are easy.
Step 3 Make It Part Of Your Routine Until It Becomes A Habit
This brings us to the last step.
It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit. They say (more on this later) that it takes 21 days of repeatedly doing something until it becomes a habit. However long it takes, 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. If the new habit requires multiple steps, list them in a handy place so that you always remember what to do. The easier you make it on yourself, the more likely you are to carry through.
Decide to create the new habit, set reminders to keep it at the top of your mind, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit.