How to Build New Habits
3 Steps to Creating New Habits
We all strive to be better people, at least that's my hope for society. Perhaps we create new years resolutions, or we want to create new habits to reduce our social anxiety. I want to create fitness habits, or create healthy habits, or new eating habits. It may seem overwhelming to create a new habit and find a way to maintain it. I must need so much will power to convince myself to keep this new habit, right?
See also: How Long Does It Take to Create a Habit
Well, let’s talk about forming new habits, then. You have had times in your life where you intentionally want to change your behavior for the better and create new habits for yourself. This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier and drinking more water, maybe even meal planning. Or it could be moving more and taking the dog for a daily walk, as a way to help alleviate your social anxiety. Or it could be work related maybe you want to create a more productive work space, or spiritual, or… There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits.
Getting into the habit of doing something is often 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, have you noticed?
Let’s break it down into a three step process that makes it easy to follow until we’ve internalized the new behavior and made it a true habit – something we do automatically without having to think about, like brushing our teeth or getting on Facebook.
What a simple step, right? The first step is to decide what you want that new habit to be. Be as specific as possible to ensure your success. Don’t just tell yourself you want to exercise more, that's so abstract. What is more? How will you know that you're successful if you don't have distinct goals? Instead say something like “I will go for a 30 minute walk every morning at 7am”. Deciding what your new habit will be and committing to when and how you’re going to do it is half the battle.
Remind Yourself To Get It Done
The next few days should be easy peasy. You’re motivated and excited to get this done. Look at you! Being successful. You're thinking of starting your own support group for those former non work outters. You can tell everyone how successful you are just getting three days in. Girl I'm right there with you. Sticking to your new habit isn’t an issue. But a few days in you’ll notice that it’s easy to slip back into old habits.
Maybe it’s raining and you don’t really want to go out and walk or maybe it's laundry day, and your day 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 so it's not lost in the shuffle. I take my children to school every day of the week, and I still have a list of things I need to do to ensure it all gets done.
It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit, which will require little to no extra willpower to keep up with. Until then, a routine will keep your new habit at the front of your brain during the day. 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 love attaching new habits to old routines, it helps so much with remembering to get it done.
Make a daily walk part of your after dinner routine, or instead of grabbing a snack from the vending machine at work to packing a healthy snack.