How To Make Good Habits Stick: 9 Surprisingly Simple Ways To Build Good Habits
We all want a healthy and fulfilling life.
So why do we keep doing unhealthy behaviors?
And why is it hard to stick to good behaviors?
The answer is :
Because we try to make changes in the wrong way. In this guide, you’re going to learn how to build new good habits and actually stick to them.
#1. Avoid The Overnight Change.
In our society today, people want yesterday what they didn’t know they wanted until today. When it comes to success, people expect results as fast as their overnight mail, microwave eggs, and instant text messaging. So no wonder that overnight transformations, such as losing 100 pounds, get a lot of hype.
We only see the result, but never hear about the process that came before it. So we attempt too much too soon and we fail.
In fact, it’s easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the impact of making better choices consistently. In other words, your habits, good or bad, are responsible for your success or failure.
#2. Understand Your Habits Pattern.
In his best-selling book, The power of habit, Charles Duhigg explains the pattern every habit follows which consists of three steps; cue (the trigger that initiates the behavior), routine (the behavior itself), and reward (the benefit you get from doing the behavior).
When you apply this process long enough, eventually your behavior becomes a habit. For example, if you feel stressed out, that’s a cue for you to do something to make you feel better. Smoking a cigarette is one routine you can do in response to that cue. The reward would be feeling better and less stressed out.
#3. Choose A Cue For Your New Good Habit.
When it comes to starting a new behavior or making a change, people wrongly believe that you need a good dose of willpower and motivation to succeed at starting a good habit.
The truth is, you can’t always rely on motivation to do something. Creating a new good habit is something you want to be consistent in your life. Motivation, on the other hand, is something that changes. This is why finding a cue (the trigger for your new behavior), is the first step in turning the desired behavior into a habit.
For example, if you want to start flossing your teeth, your cue can be the act of brushing your teeth, a habit that you already have. You can also create a favorable environment for the new habit, like placing your flossers next to your toothbrush. That way, you can see the floss every time you reach for your toothbrush.
By linking your new habit to a current one and setting up a visible cue, you won’t need the motivation to start that new habit.
#4. Start Small.
It’s not uncommon for people to get caught up in the desire to make overnight changes in their lives. However, attempting big transformations too soon is prone to failure.
Dreaming about making incredible transformation can be a great inspiration to start taking action, but keep in mind that reaching your destination might take longer than you thought.
In order for the new habit to stick, you need to start small. In the beginning, it doesn’t matter how high your level of performance is, what matters is that your behavior becomes consistent and automatic.
#5. Reward Yourself.
Rewarding yourself each time you practice your good habit is important to help you stick to that habit. One of the best ways to reward yourself is by using positive self-talk.
For example, after a healthy meal, or after a workout, or after waking up early, tell yourself, “That was good,” or, “Good job. You made progress today.”
#6. Make Your good Habits Identity-Based.
If you want to build lasting habits, start off by creating a new identity for yourself. Your current habits are a reflection of your current identity and the type of person you believe you are, on a conscious or subconscious level. Therefore, changing your beliefs about yourself will change your habits and make the change a lasting one.
For example, “Losing 20 pounds” is an appearance goal, it might motivate you to start working out, but it doesn’t help to build the habit of working out. On the other hand, “Becoming the type of person who works out every day”, is an identity-based goal that will help you build a lasting habit of working out. When you change your fundamental self-beliefs, it becomes easier to change your actions and stick to your new habit.
#7. Set A Schedule Not A Deadline.
When starting a habit, we usually focus on an end goal and the deadline we want to have the desired results by. For example, one might decide that he wants to lose 15 pounds by the summer.
The problem with this approach is that when we don’t achieve the desired results by the initial deadline, we feel like a failure and we give up even though we’re much better off than when we started. Therefore, setting a schedule to follow is better than setting a deadline when it comes to building good habits.
So if you want to lose weight, for example, the right way to build a habit that will help you reach that goal would be to schedule workouts 3, or 4, or even 7 days a week and follow through that schedule. This way, your focus will be on the behavior and not on achieving the goal by a certain date.
You’ll able to celebrate your progress instead of feeling like a failure when you don’t exactly reach your goal by a defined date.
#8. Choose A Key-Stone Habit.
When we’re excited about making a change in our lives, we often tend to make many changes and build different good habits at once. This can leave you overwhelmed. To avoid feeling overwhelmed while improving multiple areas of your life at the same time, you can choose a keystone habit that will pull the rest of your life in order.
The idea of keystone habits was first introduced in Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit. According to Duhigg, a keystone habit can create a domino effect that changes every area of your life.
For example, when someone starts running every day, he might find himself more compelled to eat healthier food and drink more water. He starts getting up earlier every day to fit in his run. He finds more energy so he becomes more productive at work, he gets things done and doesn’t have to bring work home. The single habit of running every day helped him start other habits without much effort and without feeling overwhelmed by the major change.
#9. Bouncing Back After Failure.
When starting a new good habit, you might find it hard, at times, to follow your regular routine. Slipping up on your habits doesn’t make you a failure. You can always get back on track quickly.
The best way to bounce back is to prepare for failure and set a plan that will get you on course each time. You can do that by following these tips:
1. Set a calendar for your habits.
Set a specific time and place for your new habit. If you want to start running, set a time for that, like right after work, or in the morning before you go to work, and keep that specific time during the weekends.
2. Stick to your schedule, even in small ways.
You might not find the time for your 3 miles run every day. In that case, instead of skipping a day, stick to the schedule and run for the remaining time you have, even if it was just a mile.
The impact of this small effort might not be significant, but the compounded effect of staying on track is incredible.
3. Design the appropriate environment.
The items that surround us can have a huge influence on our behaviors. They can trigger you to take action and help you build new habits.
For example, if you want to start drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, place a glass of water on your nightstand. If you want to eat healthier, throw all the junk food you have, and have some fruit on the counter for you to snack on.
Would you like to add anything to the list?
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