Forming a new habit is as difficult as quitting a bad one. The word “forming” means everything here because everyone can start a new habit but not everyone can stick to it. When you set goals though, it’s critical to create new habits that will help you reach those goals. No matter what your goal is, here’s how you can form a new habit that will help you achieve it faster:
1. Work on one habit at a time
Although it’s possible to form a few habits at the same time – eating healthy, working out daily, and getting enough sleep – it’s more effective to focus on one habit only. Your supply of energy is restricted and thus you should use it carefully. For instance, if you want to become a morning person and run each day, start with a habit of waking up early. This habit takes time to adopt, especially if you’ve used to get up after 9 am. Once you get into a habit of waking up early, focus on your next habit of running in the morning. This is a foolproof way to reach your goals faster.
2. Commit to it
Some experts claim that it takes at least 66 days to form a new habit while others believe it’s possible to adopt a new habit in just 21 days. It actually varies from person to person and you should experiment with your timeframe. One thing is obvious here: You should commit to your new habit for a minimum of 2 weeks.
If you feel like 2 weeks are not enough for your new habit to put down its root, increase your timeframe to 30 days. When you strive to form several new habits, you might feel impatient and skip the point #1. Give each habit enough time to develop, though. Even if you spend an entire year for forming new habits, your next year will be more successful.
Instill your new habit into your life
There are two popular ways to instill your new habit into your daily life. You can either anchor it to your existing habit or inspire yourself to look forward to building your new habit day by day. For instance, if your new habit to wake up early and you already have a habit to meditate at a particular time during the day, consider an early morning meditation. Besides having a host of health benefits, morning meditation will help you get into a habit of waking up earlier and enjoy this part of the day.
If you can’t anchor your new habit, then at least, try to inspire and motivate yourself to build it. For instance, before you fall asleep, come up with an exciting breakfast idea or cook it in the evening. Ensure it’s something you really love. Tell yourself that you’ll eat it only if you wake up at 6 am. If you wake up later, you will have a bowl of plain oatmeal instead.
4. Create a micro-commitment
No matter how hard you try, you can’t form a new habit overnight. It requires baby steps, time, and effort. That’s why it’s a great idea to create a micro-commitment. If you’ve used to go to sleep at 2 am and wake up at 9 am, going to bed at 11 pm and waking up at 6 am will negatively affect your body and leave you feeling sluggish and sleepy all day long. Not to mention that you’ll have difficulty falling asleep at 11 pm.
Take baby steps, instead. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier and wake up 30 minutes earlier for the first week and increase this timeframe to 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, until you reach your goal. The same goes for running in the morning. You can’t just wake up early and run vigorously until you faint because of the muscle pain and trouble breathing. It all takes time. Start with walking, then jogging, and then running a short distance. Give your body enough time to adapt to your new habits.
5. Be ready for unexpected events
Life is unpredictable, so in case of an emergency, it’s okay to forget about your habit for a short while. You or your family member might get sick or an unexpected business trip and jet lag could halt your new habit. Don’t worry, but don’t forget about your new habit. As soon as you get back to your normal life, you can return to forming your new habit again.
6. Reward yourself
Turn your micro-commitments into milestones and reward yourself once you achieve a milestone. You can also reward yourself when you’re about to give up on your new habit. It’s important that you recognize and appreciate your efforts. Be it a piece of jewelry or a piece of cake, treat yourself to this little reward. Feel proud of yourself and inspire yourself to move forward and make your life better by forming new habits.
7. Resist excuses and temptations
Both excuses and temptations will pop up once in a while and if you let them control your mind, you will never form a new habit successfully. Eliminate all the temptations from your daily life and quit a habit of making excuses. Make your new habit a new responsibility. Just like you should feed your cats or family, you should be responsible for building your new habit. You might need to cultivate a strong willpower to resist your excuses and temptations.
It’s easy to come up with a new habit, but it’s extremely hard to form it. There might be thousands of reasons to give up on your new habit, but you should learn how to ignore those reasons and stick to your habits. When it comes to making your new habit work, discipline is critical. Motivation is the key, as well. The major thing to remember is that no one will build a new habit for you; it’s your 100% responsibility and you have to take it no matter what.