In previous posts, I’ve talked about the importance of habits and ways to change them. In this article, I decided to share with you some tips on how to build new habits that lead us to success and happiness.
“Good habits are worth being fanatical about.”
How To Choose A New Habit?
What habits do you think lead to a happy life and well-being? Are there habits that are more important than others? How to choose the right habits that will help you become a better version of yourself? How to build new habits that last?
These are the questions that everyone asks themselves when they want to change their lives.
Some habits are more important than others. There are habits that will change your life fundamentally and others which may not make a particular change in your daily life. Therefore, if you want to make an impact, it’s very important to focus on new habits that are really worth it, habits that will affect you and make you feel really different.
For instance, I’ve found out that there are a few basic aspects that if you change now will help your productivity and success in the long run:
- good quality sleep
- healthy diet
- physical activity
The habits that are related to these aspects are fundamental and change not only the specific area you are targeting but also all other areas of your life.
These fundamental habits can actually complement one another. For instance, exercise helps sleep, and sleep helps people feel fresher and more productive. A healthy diet supports your busy lifestyle while good organization and the right support systems help you perform without losing time and energy.
Therefore, I consider these habits as essential for personal growth, performance and general happiness. However, depending on your lifestyle, your fundamental habits may vary – waking up early, going to bed early, special eating regimen, workouts, planning your day, etc. And it is perfectly okay to adapt them as per your needs and pick the habits that serve you best.
How To Build A New Habit?
Focus on a new habit
When we build new habits, we have to use a lot of our willpower. It is an exhaustive resource and we often fail to fight our impulses.
The desire to control our emotions, to be concentrated or to resist another distraction or temptation – all these efforts come from one source. We can view the will as a muscle – it is exhausted from overuse, but just like the physical muscles, it can be trained. We know that we have limited reserves of willpower and throughout the day the stress and the right amount of self-control is gradually depleting our resources.
Therefore, it is very important NOT to start with several habits at once. At first, it may seem easy to handle them, but when you have to use your willpower during the day, you will find that this task can be difficult.
Exhaustion of your willpower leads to a reduced ability to regulate your thoughts and actions. Therefore, it is important that your willpower is focused on building a certain habit, as this is increasing your chances of success.
Commit to the habit for at least one month
Some say that a new habit is built in 21 days, others in 66. For me, the truth is somewhere in the middle, since, every person is different. But still, make the rule to stick to the new habit consciously for at least 30 days. After this period, if you feel ready, do not remind yourself of the habit and you will see how deeply it has taken root in your mind.
Associate the new habit with daily activities
I get up every morning and head for the morning glass of water. I don’t decide to drink water every morning right after waking up. Instead, because of the environment and the signs around me, I do it automatically. I keep the glass ready and at an arm’s reach. So, this way, morning wake-up and water drinking first thing in the morning are related.
The habit should not be based on a temporary desire. Instead, it should be part of your life to the point where you cannot do without it. This means that the habit must be practiced daily.
An important aspect of this is to “anchor” a new habit into something you already do daily. For example:
“I train every day after I get home from work.”
“After brushing my teeth in the evening, I write down everything I ate for the day.”
Scientists who explore how our brain works explain that the process our brain goes through when it activates and tries to remember a new habit has three steps:
- First, there is the reminder. This is the ping that tells our brain to enter automatic mode and reminds it what behavior to perform.
- This is followed by routine behavior, which may be physical or mental.
- And finally, it is the reward that helps the brain remember what behavior deserves to become a habit in the future.
To build new habits, It is the reminder that you have to work on. What I have found is you basically need to associate the reminder with something familiar. Therefore, you need an activity that occurs every day – for example – waking up, eating, taking a shower, going to work, getting ready for sleep, etc.
If you do not tie the habit to something that you are already doing, it is very likely that you will forget about it. Our daily life is fast-paced and when we get sucked into the whirlwind of events, we will hardly remember our habit.
So here is the key – if you are trying to create new habits, find or create tips that trigger your new behavior.
Psychologists offer a simple way of thinking about these tips. For instance, try using statements like “if … .. I will do …”. This is a simple formula for changing behavior. You just choose the trigger (“if”) and the action (“then”). Examples can be:
“If I go out with a company, I’ll talk to at least one new person.”
“If someone offers me dessert, I will say no thanks.”
Creating these plans in advance can make it easier to keep track of things and stick to the new habits you want to build.
Make small steps
The key to developing any habit is to take small steps. The danger of relying solely on your willpower to create new habits is that you do not have a backup plan when you are not in the mood or you are simply in a state of stress. Therefore, a good way to create new habits is to turn them into automatic behavior. You can do this by taking baby steps and creating a low level of engagement.
It does not matter how much you have achieved in the beginning, it is much more important to stay consistent and not miss a single day. You will find that when you have a small commitment, you are more likely to start.
- Walking only 5 minutes a day.
- Writing a paragraph from your book.
- Eating one serving of vegetables every day.
- Making a single sale.
- Calling to a potential customer.
- Waking up every morning 10 minutes earlier.
Your goal is to commit to something so easy that it is impossible to miss one day. Then, when you start, you will find out that you often do more than you intended.
Record your process daily
It is very important to keep track of the habit. Every time you fail to fulfill your new habit, write down why it happened – it’s getting late, you’ve felt tired, you’ve forgotten.
This will make you aware of your weaknesses in habit formation and be able to address them.
Pair up with a friend and share your progress every day
Ask your friend to become something of a mentor for this month. Report your results to him every day. Or, join a support group on social media. Never underestimate the power of social approval. Just knowing that you will be held accountable for your habit will keep you focused and consistent.
Choose a good way to reward yourself
Good rewards have three key characteristics.
1. They occur immediately after the action;
2. They are actually related to the action;
3. They are small.
Good rewards are directly related to the desired action of your new habit.
Your reward should be something you can’t get without doing the action.
At the same time, the distance between reward and action should not be particularly large. Is there a cafe near the gym? A bookstore to browse after workouts? These are sufficient rewards that can support you on your attempt to form a new habit.
The good rewards are small. Again, rewards should not be used to motivate your behavior. They only should be used to reinforce it.
The rewards should be small enough to avoid a change in motivation and big enough to create additional excitement for the good feelings you associate with the new habit.
Final words on new habits formation
Building new habits is a challenge. This endeavor requires the strength of character, dedication, and perseverance. As you develop new habits, you change yourself – your actions, your behavior, and character. But once you feel the taste of change, you won’t want to stop improving yourself. Choose your first new habit now and follow the steps above. Wish you good luck and a lot of determination!
Do you know more tips on how to build new habits? Feel free to share them in the comments below.