If you’re like many, January 1 is the day you start on those (if any) new year’s resolutions. If you’re like me, the list has been the same each year for a few years! Despite promising myself each year that each time will be different, I still find myself losing control on those resolutions! Sounds familiar to you? Well, that’s why I’ve decided to write this article – Forming new habits and sticking to them.
We all have times in our lives when we intentionally want to change our behaviour for the better and create new habits for ourselves. For me it’s usually at the beginning of the year, like now. And it’s usually around getting in the habit of eating healthier, drinking more water, … the list goes on. For you it could be moving more and taking the dog for a daily walk, or work related, like changing career. Or spiritual – like praying more… Whatever it is, I think it’s fair to say there are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits and saw them through.
Getting into the habit of doing something is often easier said than done. I find that I acquire bad habits without much effort (if any), but getting into a “good” habit can be a little more challenging. Which is why they advise to teach kids the right way from beginning coz once they pick those bad habits, it can be difficult to break them.
Now, in my quest to create new habits and stick to them, I’ve looked at best ways around this. Here I found out the whole process can be made simple if we break it down into three steps which makes it easy to follow until we’ve fully adopted the new behaviour and made it a true habit. Apparently we do this automatically without having to think about it. So let’s see, how we can create and stick to new habits…
First step: Decide What You Want To Do
Decide what you want that new habit to be, and be as specific as possible. Instead of just telling yourself you want to exercise more, 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.
Second step: Set a Reminder To Get It Done
The first few days are usually smooth sailing as you’re motivated/determined and excited to do this, but you need to remind yourself to get it done. A few days in, you may notice it’s easy to slip back into old habits.
I once made a decision to drink 3Litres of water each day. The 1st step was easy – I was going to drink 1.5litres first thing in the morning, 750ml around midday and the other 750ml just before dinner. 2nd step, I set reminders on my phone and each time the alarm went off, I would get my fresh water. It helped being reminded as there were times I was tied up and if it wasn’t for the alarm, I’d have skipped the drink.
Could be that it’s raining and you don’t really want to go out and walk. Or maybe your day has been too busy so you’re tired. A daily reminder help you with your goals – set an alert on your phone or add the new habit to your daily to-do list for a while, you will see the results.
Step Three: Make It Part Of Your Routine Until It Becomes A Habit
It takes some 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 will help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower or relying on daily reminders.
I started this habit explained on step 2 a few years back. I made it part of my routine but making sure not to have a meal before drinking the desired amount of water. By making it part of my pre-meal routine, it helped me stick to the plan.
If you’re reading this part, Congratulations! Decide on that new habit, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit!
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