Many people make resolutions to create new habits for the New Year. Even quitting an old, unhealthy habit is actually creating a new, more healthy habit!
You may want to eat healthier, drink more water, get more exercise, quit smoking, meditate, do yoga, date night or something else related to your relationships, work, spiritual life, or personal development. Whatever change you’ve decided you want to make, I want to support you in your journey with this series about Creating Habits!
So, let’s talk about forming new habits.
Getting into the habit of doing something new is often easier said than done especially after the age of 40. Don’t you find it interesting that we often pick up “bad” habits without any effort? Think about it! Isn’t it easier to eat whatever you want and skip exercising; whereas, planning meals and making time for exercise can be a challenge?
Well, today we’re going to talk about a three-step process that makes it much easier to internalize and nurture this new behavior until it truly becomes a habit — something we do automatically without having to think about it, like brushing our teeth.
Step 1: Decide What You Want To Do
The first step is to decide what you want that new habit to be.
- Be as specific as possible, with small steps. The more specific, the better. For example, instead of saying, “I want to exercise more,” it’s better to say, “I will go for a 30-minute walk after dinner every day”.
- State it in a positive way. For example, instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” it’s more effective to say, “I want to have a toned, healthy body so I’m going to exercise 30 minutes a day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.” Or, instead of saying, “I want to quit eating too many sweets” you might say, “I want to enjoy a long, healthy life with the people I love so I’m going to take a 10-minute walk whenever I feel like eating sweets” instead of saying “I want to meditate more” you might say “I would like to be relaxed and balanced with everyone around me so I’m going to take 15 minutes each day to meditate.”
Deciding what your new habit will be, and committing to when and how you’re going to do it, is half the battle.
Step 2: Remind Yourself To Get It Done
Have you ever noticed how the first few days of starting a new routine are easier, but over time it gets harder and harder?
Why is that? Well, in the beginning, you’re motivated and excited to make a change! Even if it isn’t easy, you’re still thinking and feeling all those things that made you WANT to make a change in the first place.
But after a week or two, you may notice it becomes more difficult to stick with the new behavior and so much easier to slip back into the old habit. And, soon, you may even be actively looking for excuses NOT to do the new habit.
For instance, maybe it’s raining and you don’t really want to go out and walk. Or maybe your day just gets away from you. This is when it’s important to have a daily reminder.
- Set an alert on your phone
- Add the new habit to your daily to-do list for a while
- Write it on your personal visual calendar
Step 3: Make It Part Of Your Routine Until It Becomes A Habit
Which brings us to the last step. It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. 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.
Make that daily walk part of your after-dinner routine, or change from grabbing a snack at the vending machine at work at 10:00 in the morning to packing a healthy snack.
Congratulations! Decide to create the new habit, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit.
Be patient and consistent, your body and your brain will adjust and soon this new habit will be second nature. It’s a promise.