A habit is something that you do almost autonomously. You miss it when for some reason you can’t perform it, and it makes you feel good enough to want to repeat it.
When forming a new habit your desire has to be strong enough so that you’re not easily pulled in an opposing direction; one that offers what you perceive to be greater rewards.
We’re all too often derailed by our beliefs, doubts, past experiences and our predictions of what will happen in the process of trying to form a new good habit. Our natural instinct is to protect ourselves from change that might do us harm or deny us of something we enjoy, so we have to convince ourselves the change is not a risk and that it is worth taking.
Identifying the habits that don’t contribute to who we really want to be helps to fuel our motivation towards a change for the better.
Here are my tips for helping you form, and stick to good habits;
- What is your real objective? Who do you want your habits to help you become, and how will it make you feel? How will others view you for having these habits?
- Reflect on your existing habits – How do they make you feel? Are they serving your business, your homelife, health or social life, or are they in opposition to what you really want?
- Identify the habits that are not so good for you, the ones that don’t contribute to the person you want to be. Try to tweak your behaviour and replace the unhelpful action with a helpful one that will in time become the new good habit.
- Consider the small steps you can take that are achievable. Changing bad habits, or forming new ones can be difficult, so the small wins combined with a clear vision of your motivation work together to achieve the desired outcome.
- Delve into your feelings and emotions. Our behaviours are greatly influenced by outcomes. Positive outcomes will encourage you to repeat a behaviour, so find a recognisable reward for yourself, one that makes you feel great.
- Reframe the change from focusing on the bad, to focus on the good. Rather than saying, ‘I must change because I waste too much time doing this’, reframe your statement by saying, ‘When I change, I will save so much time by doing that’. We naturally avoid discomfort and pain, so focusing on the bad is not motivation enough.
- Surround yourself by others who practise the good habits. Mentors, inspirational people, successful people, others going through the same thought processes as you… I guarantee there’s someone in your network that has been there or is going through the same as you. Follow their social media accounts, find out where they network, read their articles or books, and interact with them when you can.
- Are you accountable to anyone? Another good way of using your network is to make yourself accountable to them. Talk about what you want to change, what good habits you’re working to achieve, encourage someone else who is forming good habits of their own. If you’re accountable only to yourself, it’s only you that you have to confess to, and you’ll forgive yourself most easily!
- Link your new behaviour to a time of day or location that is recurring, and already associated with a current habit. For example, if you communicate predominantly via email, but want to increase your client contact, phone them after sending the email. If you want to feel less pressure at work, take your lunch in a different area instead of at your desk, or better still use lunchtime to remind you to step outside for a moment.
- Reflect some more. I encourage you to look back and consider why you feel the way you do about what you’ve done recently. Did you let your new good habit slip? Can you use what you’ve learned to tweak something before considering how to reset and progress the change that you want?
Which has been the most thought-provoking tip for you? For me it was linking a new behaviour with a time of day. I had never considered doing this before until I started taking daily lunchtime walks. I knew I wouldn’t have time in the mornings, and I knew because my schedule is ever-changing that an evening walk would only be periodic, so rather than feeling negative about getting up earlier, or changing the end of the day routine, I began to feel positive about enjoying my lunch more after working up an appetite in the fresh air. I get more vitamin D, I’m less sedentary and I’m more focused when I return to work.
I hope these tips will help you form and stick to your good habits. And if you feel I can assist you in doing this, let’s have that conversation.