Something happened and you promised to make some changes in your life. The problem is when your used to a routine or habit, it may be very difficult to break free from it and equally difficult to build a new one.
It’s interesting that some people, decide to change their habits, routines, lifestyles and they actually get things done. When they say, ”I’m going to…” start exercising, eat healthily, get organized, read more, etc., they make it happen. It seems effortless and you’re wondering how?
Do these people have superpowers? Is changing really effortless? The answer is a resounding NO! In fact, for most of us the reality is that when we try to change something in ourselves, it comes with a lot of determination, willpower, and consistency.
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Let’s try to understand and learn what others are doing to make change possible and make habits stick.
Steps to Changing your Habits
As with anything- everything starts with the mind. Why? Because the way we think affects the way we feel and the way we feel affects the way we act
Shift your attention away from the end goal and instead focus on showing up and doing your habit every single day.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
― Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect
2. Baby Steps
Most people want to create big change as quickly as possible. They are anxious to see results immediately.
They want to go from zero to joining a marathon in a month, Start a business and expect to be a success overnight and meditate for 20 minutes every day — even though they’ve barely managed five minutes in the past.
The problem with starting something new is that this requires a tremendous amount of willpower. And research has shown that willpower works like a muscle. The more you use it the more willpower depletes. And when it does, you’ll be very likely to lose interest then quit.
The solution to this problem is to start so small that it hardly requires any willpower at all:
- Instead of aiming for 10,000 steps per day, start with 3,000 or just 1,000 steps.
- Instead of switching to a vegan diet, start to add a serving of vegetables during a meal.
- Instead of aiming for 1 book read a week start with 1 chapter a day or even 10 pages a day.
You might be thinking – if you start with small steps it would take too much time and your desired results would take too long that eventually you’ll lose interest and quit. Actually, the opposite usually happens the easier things are the more likely you are willing to do it again and again.
According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits- “All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.”
3. Consistency is key
Being consistent is going to take some discipline and determination. Being consistent will help build momentum. This means we’ll also feel good about what we’re working towards. It can fast-track your improvement or development in any area. Consistency also leads to progress, which can speed up the accomplishment of what we want.
Know that consistency is not about speed, it’s about regularity and pace. Everyone works at different paces. Do everything to your highest standard and at your own pace. Get into a routine and it should come naturally.
4. Incorporate the new habit into your Routine
If you’re new to this method for building good habits, don’t try to tackle more than one habit at a time. The easiest way to make it stick is when you include the habit into your existing routine.
When that new habit sticks, you can then add a new one. Doing this continuously will result in a new lifestyle. Try to start small, consider Morning Routines.
5. Build Passion
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to let go of a project when you’ve invested a lot of effort into it?
6. Get Clear on your Goals
If you’re serious about your new habit, vague intentions like, “I’ll try to hit the gym three times this week,” won’t cut it.
Research has shown that you’ll be much more likely to follow through if you’ve decided beforehand exactly when and where the behavior is going to take place.
- Use “habit stacking.” Link your new habit to an already existing behavior – for example: “After/Before [established habit], I will [new habit].” For example, “After I leave the office, I will go for a brisk walk.”
- Scheduling. What gets scheduled gets done. So if your habit is truly important to you, let your calendar reflect that. Give it space in your schedule, just like you would with an important business meeting.
7. Look for an Accountability Partner
Research confirms that your partner’s behavior and habits have a big influence on your own. So make a pact with your partner to work on a positive habit together and serve as accountability partners for one another.
8. Design Your Environment
If you plan to swim or do yoga in the morning then prepare your gear in advance the night before and place it in a table near you. In this way, you have no excuse. Same as if your shifting to a healthy lifestyle, then don’t stack junk food in your kitchen, If you don’t see it then you can’t eat it.
9. Pre-Commit To Your Habit
Imagine it’s 6:00 am and your alarm goes off. Within seconds, your plan of going to the gym before work is in jeopardy as your brain starts rationalizing.
”Hmm, I’m actually really tired. I had a bad dream last night I don’t think I have the energy to work out. I could go to the gym after work. Or, I could go to the gym tomorrow morning instead. Yeah, I’ll hit the snooze button.”
Yes, this is real life but if you are committed there is no excuse. Try the 5-second rule by Mel Robbins. When the alarm goes off count backward from 5 to 1 then deliberately push yourself out of bed- trust me you’ll thank yourself later.
10. Celebrate Your Small Wins
If you’re like most people, you’re much better at beating yourself up for a bad performance than you are at rewarding yourself for a good one.
Remember you do more of what is rewarded. Same as you stop doing what get’s punished .
The Science of Habits
In the book Atomic Habits by James Clears: It said that the process of building a habit can be divided into four simple steps: cue, craving, response, and reward.
This four-step habit loop is the backbone of every habit, and your brain runs through these steps in the same order each time.
- Cue. The cue triggers your brain to initiate a behavior.
- Cravings. The motivational force behind every habit.
- Response. The actual habit you perform, the action.
- Rewards. The end goal of every habit.
Creating a Good Habit
|The 1st law (Cue)||Make it obvious.|
|The 2nd law (Craving)||Make it attractive.|
|The 3rd law (Response)||Make it easy.|
|The 4th law (Reward)||Make it satisfying.|
Changing a Bad Habit
|Inversion of the 1st law (Cue)||Make it invisible.|
|Inversion of the 2nd law (Craving)||Make it unattractive.|
|Inversion of the 3rd law (Response)||Make it difficult.|
|Inversion of the 4th law (Reward)||Make it unsatisfying.|
One popular method to build habits is called the 21/90 rule.
Commit to a goal for 21 straight days. After three weeks, the pursuit of that goal should have become a habit. Once you’ve established that habit, you continue to do it for another ninety days. If you can keep up something for three weeks and then ninety days, then it should become a permanent lifestyle change.
Time to Plan
- Your Why? In order to make a habit stick, you have to be clear on your Why’s? Because if it’s not a need, not a desire, a fad your curious about, then it would be challenging to make it stick.
- Believe in yourself. Focus on strategies that play to your strengths and your skills. Know your weaknesses and point of excuses, learn from your past experiences — good or bad — they are learning opportunities and should be seen as useful tools in tackling new goals with optimism.
- Create a routine. Make sure your new habit can easily integrate into your life. Think Long term, not one you can follow only for the short term. That’s why it’s important to set realistic goals — the more successful you are, the easier it will be to stay motivated.
- Focus on what you’re adding to your life. Try not to fixate on what you’re giving up, whether it’s certain foods or shopping on weekends. Look forward to future changes, a well-designed life. Celebrate small wins. Even the smallest positive changes as a result of your new habit will give you the momentum you need to keep going.
- Make your program your own. What works for others may not work for you. Figuring out what it takes — within reason — to make your habits and routines pleasurable and sustainable. Design a Life that is truly your own. The more you enjoy what you are doing the less likely you are to rebel against it.