3 Steps to Creating New Habits
Let’s talk about forming new habits. We all have times in our lives when we intentionally want to change our behavior for the better and create new habits for ourselves. This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier and drinking more water. It could be moving more during the day or taking the dog for a daily walk. It could be work related, or spiritual. It could be how you relate and communicate in a relationship. 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 and something we do more automatically without having to think about, driving our car or brushing our teeth.
1) Decide What You Want To Do
The first step is to decide what you want the 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.
2) Remind Yourself To Get It Done
The next few days should go smoothly. You’re motivated and excited to get this done. Initially, sticking to your new habit isn’t an issue. But a few days in you’ll notice that it’s seems 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. Maybe you’re just not feeling that great or there’s something else you’d rather do. 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 to keep you focused for a while.
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. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. Even before a new behavior becomes automatic, a routine will help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower, motivation 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. Decide you will take the time to get in touch with that friend who’s been on your mind. Get up and put the dishes in the dishwasher when you’re done eating. Find a place to put those keys every time you come in.
Congratulations! Decide to create a new habit, practice doing it until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming and having a good new habit. Once you’ve mastered one, why not choose another new one.