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. There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits.
Some examples could be:
- getting in the habit of eating healthier and drinking more water.
- moving more and taking the dog for a daily walk.
- learning a new skill.
- work related, or spiritual, you get the gist of it.
Getting into the habit of doing something is often easier said than done. Why is is that 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 internalised the new behavior and made it a true habit – something we do automatically without having to think about, like brushing or flossing our teeth.
Step 1 Decide What You Want To Do
The first step is to decide what you want that new habit to be. Start small – It’s easier to stick to a new habit if it’s not too intimidating. Start with a simple goal and then gradually increase the complexity and be as specific as possible. Don’t just tell yourself you want to exercise more. Instead say something like “I will go for a 10 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. Explore why this habit is important to you. Are you doing it because you have been told too? or because you know it will support the life you have or would like? Get clear on your why!
Step 2 Remind Yourself To Get It Done
So you find you begin this new habit and for the first few days you’re motivated and excited to get this done. Sticking to your new habit isn’t an issue. But a few days in you notice your self slipping 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. When I was starting out exercising – I would make appointments with myself in my phone just as I would for other important appointments. It helped keep me motivated, focused and accountable. Keeping a record of how you are doing can help motivate you to stick with it. It also allows you to measure your progress and make adjustments if needed.
Step 3 Make It Part Of Your Routine Until It Becomes A Habit
Which brings us to the last step. It takes 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 can help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower or relying on daily reminders. This is called “Habit Stacking”. When you group together activities into a routine. For example you may decided to make your daily walk part of your after dinner routine, or if you are finding you aren’t drinking enough water to stay hydrated, when you have a hot drink pour yourself a glass of water to drink. If you can manage to practice the routine until it’s second nature you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit. Habit stacking makes the routine memorable and anchors your new habits to an existing trigger.
More importantly don’t forget to celebrate the little victories along the way to keep yourself motivated and focused. It’s also important to reward yourself for staying consistent and achieving your goals.
If you need support or an accountability buddy as you navigate a new habit consider booking in for a one off coaching session. You bring the habit you would like to work on and during our session together we create a plan that is realistic and achievable for you.