Deciding to adopt new habits sounds great on paper, but it can be challenging to put them into action. How many times have you tried to exercise on a regular basis, only to find yourself back on the couch after a few days or weeks?
There are many strategies that can make installing and maintaining new habits easier.
Follow these steps to create long-lasting, positive habits:
1. Choose the time and place. Many positive habits will be centered on a time, place, or both. For example, you might exercise before work. Or you might meditate in the evenings in the spare bedroom.
- Having a specific time or place to perform and perfect your new habits is instrumental in ensuring they quickly become a regular part of your life.
2. Start with one habit at a time. It’s natural to resist change. Trying to change too much at once is frequently a recipe for disaster. Begin with a single habit. When you’re performing that habit reliably, add in another. Continue this until you’ve incorporated all the habits that you believe will relieve your stress and promote harmony in your life.
- Willpower is only available in finite quantities. Adding multiple new habits at the same time requires far more willpower than most of us have in reserve.
- There’s no hurry. Take whatever time is necessary to install each new habit completely. It might take a month or even longer.
3. Start with the easiest habit. How can you give yourself the best odds for success? Start with the habit you believe will be the easiest to perform religiously. A little success will encourage you to continue adding more positive habits, and make your progress much smoother.
4. Understand why. Consider each habit and what it will add to your life. If you’re unable to see the benefit in a particular habit, you’ll be unlikely to stick with it.
- Reminding yourself of the importance of the habit will dramatically increase the odds of being successful.
5. Reward yourself. As you reach various milestones, give yourself a little reward. Even a single week of 100% compliance is a reason to celebrate. Keep the rewards small, so you can have more of them.
6. Focus for 30 days. Psychologists often claim that it takes 30 days to create a new habit. Do everything you can to successfully get through those first 30 days successfully. You’ll likely keep the habit forever if you can just survive that month. Stick with it!
- Missing a single day here and there isn’t a big deal. However, missing two consecutive days is simply creating the habit of not doing the activity.
7. Have a trigger. Habits are much easier to create if we have something that reminds us to do them. A good trigger is something that automatically happens each day.
- For example, it might be getting out of bed, putting on your shoes, eating lunch, or sitting down at your desk. Anything that you already do every day can serve as a reminder to perform your new habit.
8. Prepare. Some habits require planning, equipment, software, or other consideration. If you’re going to exercise in the morning, you’ll probably need to set your alarm to wake up earlier. It might also make sense to have your workout clothes laid out and ready to go.
- Perhaps there’s an app that can assist you with getting organized. Perhaps you’re just missing the knowledge you need to be successful.
- Plan ahead and implement the necessary preparations to ensure your success.
New habits can be challenging to develop, but these strategies will make it go more smoothly.
Remove Old Habits That Are Detrimental to Your Progress
Typically, we make life more challenging than it needs to be. It isn’t just the new habits that are challenging to install. We all have well-established negative habits that can prove to be formidable obstacles.
Contemplate these ideas for removing those pesky old habits from your life:
1. Make a list of your negative habits. Think about the habits you’re attempting to install and consider which of your current habits will be obstacles. Maybe you need more sleep, but you play poker every Wednesday night until 3:00 AM.
- Do you distract yourself by watching TV or overeating when you get stressed?
- Do you fall asleep whenever you try to meditate or pray?
2. Create positive alternatives that provide the same or a similar benefit. What do you gain by performing the negative habit? For example, playing poker might be about spending time with your friends. Is there another time or way you could see them without disrupting your sleep schedule?
- It’s important to replace the negative habit with a new habit that provides the same benefit. It’s very challenging to give up something that feels good. The key is to find something with similar benefits but without the negative aspects.
“We need to distinguish between stress and stimulation. Having deadlines, setting goals, and pushing yourself to perform at capacity are stimulating. Stress is when you’re anxious, upset, or frustrated, which dramatically reduce your ability to perform.”– Andrew Bernstein