How to form a new habit!
So here we are a week in to the start of a New Year, which we all hope will turn out to be much better than the last one! Though maybe not initially!
If you’re a one for New Year’s Resolutions, you may well have enjoyed already your first week engaged in your Resolution, or not as the case may be!
I’m not a fan of ‘New Year’s Resolutions’! Reason being; I feel that we can choose to make a change at any stage of the year, if we wish to do so. I prefer to give myself permission to make a change, take on something new or adapt, as and when the motivation arises to do so.
On that basis these hints and tips can be used at any time of the year, even though they are being shared with you at the time of year when we typically might choose to change a habit, introduce a new habit or commit to a change of some kind.
If now, you’re looking to form a new habit, here are my suggestions to help you succeed!
Step 1: Focus on One New Habit
So the question is:
“Which one new habit do you want to form?”
Identify it. Depending on the habit that you want to form, it may be one that can be done daily or less frequently.
Step 2: Commit to completing this new habit for a MINIMUM of 30 days.
There are various schools of thought as to how long it takes to form a new habit. I tend to work on the 6 week basis which equates to 42 days! For the purposes of these hints and tips I would advise committing to your new habit for the next 30 days (or a month to keep it simple).
In this time, you should do your upmost to carve out time to consistently do your new habit.
Step 3: Align your new habit to an established habit
A habit should be instilled in your life to the point it becomes habitual, something that you’ll do almost without thinking.
What you want to do is to commit to a very small habit change and take baby steps as you build on it.
· “After I’ve finished my work for the day, I will change into my workout clothes ready for my online class.”
· “After brushing my teeth at night, I will log everything that I ate for the day.”
· “After I’ve got the kids settled into their home schooling, I’ll join that Zoom class.”
You’re linking your new habit to routine you currently have.
Step 4: Take small steps
The best way to make a habit stick is to turn it into automatic behaviour. You can do this by taking small steps and creating a low level of commitment. The idea here is to create a small-commitment where it’s impossible to fail. It’s more important to stay consistent and not miss a day than it is to hit a specific milestone. What you’ll find is that when you have a low level of commitment, you’ll be more likely to get started.
Examples of low level-commitments are:
· Walking for just 5 minutes a day.
· Keeping a food journal.
· Eating one serving of vegetables each day.
· Drink 8 fl oz of water before a meal.
· Waking up each morning 10 minutes earlier.
The key to habit developing is to make small commitments and focus on small wins. Create a low level commitment where it’s impossible to fail.
Step 5: Make a Plan for Obstacles
Every new habit will have obstacles. When you know in advance what your potential obstacles are, you can take action to overcome them.
Examples of common obstacles:
Prepare and anticipate for these obstacles. In these situations try “If-Then Planning” Some examples of “If-Then” statements include:
· “If I check the weather and it’s raining, then I will work out at home instead.”
· “If I don’t have time for my project at the end of the day, I will start to wake up 30 minutes earlier and work on it before anything else.”
· “If I have a really bad day at work and don’t feel like working out, I will let my workout buddy know, so they can encourage me to workout!"
Step 6: Create Accountability for Your Habit
Track your efforts and make public declarations about your new habit, you’re more likely to follow through with a commitment when you’re being observed by others. To stick with this new routine, you should let others know about your efforts and goals. Post updates on social media, work with an accountability buddy, or post regular updates to an online community just like the online groups we have, where we hold each other accountable. Do whatever it takes to get reinforcement from others in support of your new routine.
Never underestimate the power of social approval. Simply knowing you will be held accountable for your habit keeps you focused and consistent.
Step 7: Reward Important Milestones
A new habit doesn’t have to be boring. Focus on building a reward system into the process so you can take time to celebrate the successful completion of your goals. The reward you pick is up to you, but it’s important to celebrate those big moments along the way.
Keep in mind, a reward doesn’t have to break the bank. You could check out a new movie, enjoy a special meal with your significant other, or simply do something you love. For weight loss milestones, it’s a good idea to go with rewards without food.
We tend to underestimate the importance of having “fun” while building habits. Having a clear reward for regularly completing an action will help you to stick to the new routine.
As you can see, it’s entirely feasible to form a new habit. The secret is to relate it to an important goal, make a commitment to work at it on a daily basis and use a series of low level-commitments to increase the likelihood of success.