Let’s talk about forming new habits. We all have times in our lives where we intentionally want to change our behaviour for the better and create new habits for ourselves. 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… 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 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 makes it easy to follow until we’ve internalized the new behaviour and made it an intrinsic habit – something we do automatically without having to think about, like brushing our 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. 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.
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.
Make It Part Of Your Routine Until It Becomes A Habit
Which brings us to the last step. It takes some time before a new behaviour becomes a true habit. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. Even before the new behaviour 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.
Maybe your new healthy habit is to get used to regularly check the labels of the foods you buy so you can become more aware and diligent about what you put in your body. I used to make my grocery list on my phone and at the top in big letters I’d write, “CHECK ALL LABELS BEFORE BUYING”.
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.
Stay tuned for Part 2 in this 4 part series where I’ll be sharing “The Link Between Habits and Willpower”.
If you start a diet or new workout program every Monday, only to have your “willpower” bonk out on you by Friday, make sure to check it out (I post a new blog post every Sunday).
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