We all have habits. These are regular practices or tendencies that you do and can range from working out to brushing our teeth to writing in a journal every night. Some of us have better habits than others. Those of us with bad habits sometimes think that we (and yes I mean we because I also have some bad habits) don’t have the will power or conviction to change our habits, but that isn’t true. Good habits are just things we do overtime that replace our bad habits. To create a new habit, remember: Reminder, Routine and Reward.
The first step to changing our habits is starting with one thing. One small, seemingly insignificant change and commit to making that change. This small change, once achieved, will start another small change and another and so on. Once you have identified the change you wish to make, commit to sticking to the change for 21 days. During these 21 days your life should be working around keeping your new habit.
Keep your new habit tied to something that you do every day anyways. For example, if you want your habit to be flossing your teeth, do it every day right after you brush your teeth. Anchoring your new habit to an established habit will be a good reminder to do it.
When forming your new habit, be committed to just completing the habit and once it is part of your daily routine, you can then work on getting the level of performance you require. If your goal is to go walking every day after work, then every day when you come home immediately change into your workout clothes and go for a walk, even if it is just 5 mins. Once you have built into your life that every day after work you will go for a walk you can work on taking longer walks.
Be sure to plan for obstacles. We always find excuses to not do the things, whether it be weather, time, cost, or pain. The only way to mitigate the risks of these obstacles is to plan for them. If you want to walk after work each day, and the weather is bad, plan to go to the gym on days with bad weather. If you want to write in a journal every night, be sure to carve out specific time to do that so you can’t say you don’t have time.
Don’t forget to reward yourself at important milestones. By celebrating these small wins, you will feel better about making these positive changes and it will keep you motivated to keep going. Be sure that your rewards are not counter-productive to your goals. For example, my goal was to eat more healthy foods, but rewarding myself with a slice of cake at the end of the week wouldn’t help me towards my goal. Instead, my goal was if I could eat healthy food for 1 week, I would treat myself to go to the movies. Sometimes a reward could be something as simple as saying “Good job!! Keep up the good work” to yourself. Just find something that works for you.