Have you noticed how, when we talk or think about habits, very often the word ‘bad’ is hovering somewhere in the background?
A habit is just something we consciously chose to do in the past, then repeated so often that we continue to do it without thinking. Habits can be useful: if we had to think about when and where to brush our teeth each day, chances are we’d never get round to it!
In with the new
If you want to create a new habit, it helps to be clear WHY – how will it add love / joy / wellbeing / success to your life? Remind yourself of your motivation frequently. It also helps to be accountable to someone – a friend, group or coach; often we’re prepared to let ourselves down but not someone else.
A small change is easier to start, (you could start one right now!), easier to keep up and easier to incorporate into your normal life. Try this one: SMILE before you open your eyes each morning.
Choose easy habits that you’re more likely to succeed at (and enjoy) to begin with. You’re building your habit skills as well as trust in yourself as someone who can create habits.
Practice makes perfect
Every time we do something new, we’re creating a new neural pathway in our brain. The more times we do it, the stronger that neural pathway becomes until eventually, (between 21 days and three months) we’ve created a habit.
Stick with it
No exceptions! ‘Just this once’ and before long it will be on the Habit Heap and you’ll end up losing faith in your ability to create habits that stick. But do plan ahead: if you know your routine will be changing, eg a house-move or major life event, decide in advance whether you’re going to put your habit on hold or change the way you go about it, so that it doesn’t become a failed habit.
Expect discomfort – whether you’re ending or starting a habit, it will feel strange at first
Easy does it – there’s no point in trying to do too much and then being overwhelmed
Create a cue – anchoring a new habit in the same place and time in your daily schedule will make it more likely to stick
Choose your habits well!
As you can see, I believe we can be masters rather than slaves of our habits. What habit would make a positive difference to your life? If you need a hand, let’s have a chat about how you could create powerful habits and enjoy life more.