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We all know how bad habits can hold us back and be quite difficult to replace or get rid of. These bad habits keep us in an endless loop of unconscious decisions. However, what we don’t really hear much about is how forming good habits can actually assist us in moving through challenges and even help us succeed.
Habits are seemingly small decisions or actions we make on a daily basis without giving too much thought to. They’re a subconscious programming of sorts. A routine of behavior that’s fixed.
Fixed meaning, unless we bring awareness to the behavior, it remains on autopilot. We give up the opportunity to be in control of our behavior that could create positive change that leads to growth and eventually success.
Habits Pretty Much Define Who You Are.
You are essentially who you are today due to the habits you’ve adapted throughout your life. Things such as your level of happiness, fitness, and even success are all due to your habits.
Knowing that should ultimately be a huge inspiration. Hearing that something we can control and take charge of can lead to a happier more healthy life seems simple enough.
Unfortunately it’s not that simple for most of us.
Habits are oftentimes programmed or learned. Growing up around people who have bad habits can lead us to do the same. Even being around friends who don’t have the best habits can lead to us picking them up eventually.
Personally, when I’m around people who have the habit of complaining, I find myself looking for something to complain about just to relate or keep a conversation.
Certain poor habits are also known to be linked to mental health issues.
Sometimes trauma or even just lack of sleep can lead to feelings like lack of motivation and emotional numbness which is not the greatest mental environment for forming a good habit. Especially since forming good habits do require a drive or motivation.
However, forming good habits can greatly help mental health issues like anxiety due to the routine that comes with adopting good habits and the personal development journey experienced during the transition.
The Importance Of Forming New/ Good Habits
As I mentioned above, forming good habits determine not just who you are, but how you feel. As you can imagine, if you don’t have many good habits instilled, you could end up unmotivated, uninspired and in a lazy loop of hopelessness.
Neither of those are the formula to success.
Regardless of what success means to you, to achieve it you have to be in the right mindset and have a good set of goals in line. How can you reach a goal if you don’t have a set of good habits to support the journey?
Imagine planning out a goal you’d like to reach. Your first step would be figuring out what things you need to accomplish to get to that goal. How do you accomplish those tasks?
Habits are the very first step to achieving your goals.
With good consistent habits, you support your goals that eventually lead to success.
Forming good habits can also replace motivation.
Think of the times when you have zero motivation to do something. A huge part of that lack of motivation comes from not knowing where to begin.
Forming good habits will create the routine needed for motivation.
Benefits Of Forming Better Habits:
- helps achieve goals
- increases quality of life
- increases productivity
- helps you become a better version of yourself
- saves time in your day
The 21/90 Myth
They say it takes 21 days to make a habit and 90 days to make it a permanent lifestyle change. However according to a 2009 study, it can take a person up to 254 days to form a new habit.
While that can sound discouraging, the study further concludes that 66 days seems to be the average and that the days will vary based on what exactly the habit is.
Meaning, some habits can be formed faster than others. For example, I’m sure it is much easier to form the habit of making your bed than it is to run a mile every morning.
The idea that it takes 21 days to make a habit is actually a myth made up by a plastic surgeon in the 1960’s. He was referencing how long it took for his plastic surgery patients to get used to their new faces. Which if you ask me is not at all forming a new habit.
So when you attempt to form good habits and don’t find it a natural flow in your day after 21 days, don’t feel discouraged. Sometimes we just need more time.
It’s important to note that while we do want to challenge ourselves and become better, we also want to ensure we are being gentle during times we need it as well.
3 R’s Of A Habit
The 3 R’s of a habit is a 3 step pattern one would follow to assist in forming habits. You can use the 3 steps as a guide to completing the habits on a daily basis.
A reminder is exactly what you think. It’s a cue or form of trigger that lets you know its times to begin practicing the behavior.
You can use your phone’s reminder app, or put sticky notes somewhere you will easily see it.
I keep a habit tracker on my desk that I habitually sit at each morning while I have my coffee.
You could also use a journal or even a calendar. Or if you already have a habit you could use that to remind you of the new one.
In my case, I already had the habit of expressing gratitude each morning, so I used that habit to be the reminder of my next new habit which was to make my bed every morning. Now I express gratitude while I make my bed.
We already have a routine like this in our daily lives.
Think of when you leave the house. You pat your pocket for your phone, then keys, then wallet. Each one reminds you to check for the next.
Routine is the actual behavior itself. It’s the action you will take towards your habit. Let’s say you also want to start the habit of making your bed every morning, you could set a reminder on your phone to alert you of the habit and the next step would be the action.
For an easier transition into making that routine into that habit, it’s suggested to begin a habit that is less challenging and doesn’t require much to get used to.
Continuing with the example of making your bed, it is a habit that requires little effort since you wake up and are on the bed. Unlike beginning your habit journey with something more challenging like hitting the gym before work.
That would require many cues, or reminders. Like the phone, keys, wallet tap.
It might look like: wake up, eat, get ready, get in the car, drive to the gym, work out.
A routine that requires many steps will usually be more challenging to begin when you’re in the early stages of habit forming.
The is key to forming habits is reward. It’s basically what rewires and motivates you to continue to do the habit.
Reward also makes us feel good. It’s a celebration for completing a task. Try rewarding yourself with positive self-talk but you can alway find other ways to celebrate.
Sometimes completing the habit will create a sense of accomplishment and that in itself will feel like a reward.
Similar to when you finally begin the routine of working out. You get a rush of energy and you feel so good. That good feeling will motivate you to continue the habit again.
Try not to reward yourself with bad habits as it defeats the purpose. Things like, eating a certain food you know aren’t good for you, or validating spending hours scrolling on social media. While those things can be a way to treat yourself, they are also limiting habits.
It’s important to work on good habits that make us feel good when we accomplish them versus bad habits that make us feel physically gross or guilty.
Awareness Of Bad Habits
Along with forming good habits it’s also important to be aware of the bad ones.
When we are aware of our bad habits we are more likely to want to change them since a major part of a habit is the idea that we don’t really think much of them and that they are somewhat automated.
Bringing awareness could make us question why we even participate in such behaviors to begin with.
Just questioning why could lead to change.
As I mentioned, getting rid of bad habits is much harder than adopting new good habits. The reason is because the bad habits are usually associated with behaviors that give us more pleasurable rewards.
Like scrolling on instagram for hours.
We get hundreds of mini dopamine rushes with each notification, or even just each image we see.
The dopamine rush is similar to what we see in addiction.
We eventually seek more and more rewards which makes ending the endless scrolling habit much more difficult.
When we begin a good habit the dopamine rushes dont come on as fast as a bad habit, it’s usually more gradual which is what makes it a healthier habit. It’s a reward we have to work for, but eventually receive the gratification, which in return makes us also feel good about ourselves for the hard work we accomplished.
I know when I catch myself in an endless scroll, I feel gross and like I wasted valuable time. Good habits have the opposite effect.
Being held accountable is a huge motivator for sticking to a habit. How will you trust that you will stick to what you plan?
There are many ways to be held accountable. One way is to begin the journey with a friend or like-minded person.
As we’ve heard plenty of times, your tribe attracts your vibe. Find that friend who’s on the same wavelength or even a friend who you admire and work on a few habits together.
You guys can check in on each other and share your experiences along the process.
Another way would be to have something as simple as a tracker that you can check off. Keeping a to do list is a good way to stay on track with your goals while also holding yourself accountable.
Which is why I made this Free Habit Tracker Template:
*read to the end to find out how you can get these free template*
It’s a 31 Day Habit Tracker that allows you to list up to 31 habits you can check off day by day.
When you reach 31 days, you can re-print the template and start over until you feel your habit comes natural.
Take Away Tips On Forming Good Habits
Start Small— If starting new habits is new to you focus on one habit at a time. Begin with easier, smaller habits and then increase as you go on.
Stay Consistent— Try your best to accomplish each habit every day. Consistency is key to sticking to any habit.
Journal The Process— Keep a tracker or journal to cross out completed habits or write out thoughts and feelings along the process. It is proven that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down.
Check In Often— After a few days of your routine, remind yourself why you wanted to begin this journey. It can help keep you motivated and bring focus to your goals.
Create Specific Triggers— A great way to remind yourself that it’s time to innate a habit would be to create a specific trigger. Like the phone, keys, wallet habit we all do before we leave the house. However something more tailored to our habit. An example could be, leaving your yoga mat in front of your bedroom door, so that you are reminded that you want to do yoga first thing in the morning.
Utilize A Vision Board— Vision boards are usually used for manifesting things we want in our life, which makes it perfectly useful for manifesting habits. If you want to start a morning yoga practice add photos of someone practicing yoga as the sunrises.
Attract The Right Tribe— Surround yourself with people who are already practicing good habits. You want to be motivated and uplifted throughout the process. If you find yourself around people who are controlled by their pleasure, you’ll find yourself doing the same. Another idea could be to encourage the people around you to join the challenge of creating newer, better habits.
Understand The Benefits— Understanding how creating better habits could benefit you can be motivating. It helps to know that you are doing something that is ultimately with your best interest in mind.
Use Affirmations—Like a vision board, affirmations work by manifesting your words into reality. In my Habit Tracker, I share a great daily affirmation that I use every day before I begin tracking my habits.
Forming new habits can seem challenging and even overwhelming, but it is actually much easier than it would be to get rid of a bad one. When we begin forming new habits our daily lives transform and we find ourselves having less time participating in limiting behaviors, leading us to a more productive day.
Whatever goals you have in mind, know that forming the new habits will help you reach them. Goals without habits will never lead to success.
Share in the comments below, what new habits do you plan to start?
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