We all have times in our lives where we decide we want to change our behavior for the better by creating new habits for ourselves. This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier, exercising more, and drinking more water. Or it could be money related, work related…or umm, maybe blogging regularly?! There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved by creating new habits.
Getting into the habit of doing something is often (almost always!) 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.
It’s helpful to break down the process into steps to make it seem less daunting. After awhile, it will become automatic and we realize we aren’t even having to force ourselves to do it anymore.
I’ve heard it takes 21-30 days to form a habit, so here are three steps to follow to get started, including my personal habits I’d like to start.
- Be Specific!
The first step is to decide what you want your new habit to be. Be specific. Don’t use something vague, like “I want to exercise more.” Instead, say something like “I will go to the gym five times per week”. Making a decision and committing to it is half the battle.
My habit: Exercise at least four times per week (two days yoga class/two days exercise bike at home)
- Set an Obvious Reminder to Get it Done
The first few days are the hardest for me. I’m excited, but not used to having to remember to do this new thing. Getting started with the new habit is rough. I need something in my face, telling me to get it DONE!
Maybe it was a long day at work and I just want to relax. Maybe I have errands to run and time gets away from me. This is when it’s important to have a daily reminder. Set an alert on your phone if that’s what works for you. Add it to your planner, calendar, to-do list, whatever.
My reminder: I like to write the goal down on a piece of paper and stick it near my desk. Every time I complete the task, I write down the date.
- Incorporate it into Your Existing Routine Until It Becomes A Habit
Which 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 the new behavior becomes automatic, a routine will help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower or relying on daily reminders.
I think this is where things tend to go wrong for me. I need to make the habits I already have work in my favor. For example, if you always eat dessert after dinner, switch to a healthy snack instead. If you’re in the habit of enjoying a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, go for a walk before drinking it.
My routine: I usually come home from work and sit down to eat a snack, then before I know it I have run out of time to get in my bike ride or yoga class. I will try changing into my exercise clothes before I sit down so I will have no excuse not to do it!
That’s it! Decide to create the new habit, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit. I am going to give these steps a try starting this week and hope that it gets me back on track!
I think it’s best to start with one habit at a time so it doesn’t get overwhelming. Once my exercise habit gets underway, I do have a few more that I need to work on so I will list them here in hopes that will hold me to it!
If you have a habit in mind, good luck! I’d love to hear any new habits or helpful tips in the comments.