Change is inevitable, so the old saying goes. But often, changing habits can be easier said than done! Still, although it can be quite a task breaking from a routine cycle, it’s certainly not impossible. Whether you want to be more organized, reduce your social media consumption, or improve your self-care, there are indeed some tricks you can apply to make your new habits stick. Let’s look at some proven ways to help you create new habits, one day at a time.
Define the Purpose
Creating new habits and adjusting your usual routines can sometimes be challenging. As a result, it can be hard to make a change if you don’t have strong reasons that are motivating you. Therefore, from the onset, you’ll need to figure out why you want to change your habits before you can get started on the journey to breaking the cycle you don’t like. To get started, take some time to write down all the reasons that you want to make the change, and then review them often. This can help you to follow through on your change – even when you feel like you don’t want to.
Start With Small Changes
When people decide that they’re going to make changes, they sometimes make the common mistake of taking on too much at once. Then, after starting out gung ho, they can end up frustrated if they can’t keep up with it all. A better approach, therefore, can be to make the change one step at a time. For example, if you want to get more exercise, instead of deciding that you’re going to exercise every day for an hour, start by deciding that you’re going to go for a 30 minute walk 3 days a week. After spending some time in this initial conditioning phase that gets your body to learn the patterns, then you can increase efforts. Across time, these small changes will accumulate, in the form of a new habit.
Tip: Don’t be too hard on yourself during the new initial phase, though. You are just getting started, so make sure to reinforce yourself for your successes.
Associate With People Who Have Positive Energy
Did you know that your environment affects who you are and who you become? Real change will come when you surround yourself with change-makers. These people will not only motivate you to stay the course but also challenge you to be accountable for your new commitment to acquiring new behavior or habits. When you know that you will have to report out to someone regarding your progress, it can act as an additional motivator to keep going. A coach can also be a powerful ally in this regard.
Change Your Identity
While changing your behavior is part of the process, adjusting your mindset is also a critical part of successfully developing a new habit. One powerful means of doing so, is to aim to adopt the identity of the person who has already accomplished it. Therefore, instead of telling yourself, “I’m trying to…” tell yourself, “I’m someone who…” For example, if your goal is to develop the habit of providing more feedback in the workplace, don’t say, “I’m trying to give more feedback.” Instead, say, “I’m someone who provides constructive criticism.” If you start to think of yourself this way, you’ll be much more prone to keep up with the new habit – because you’ll consider it to be a part of who you are.
Visualize the New You
When you want to make a change, visualization can be a powerful tool. Using visualization is simple – close your eyes and take some time to imagine the person you will become after you create your new habits. The mind is powerful, and the battle starts in your head before it can be actualized outwardly. Therefore, augmenting your list of “whys” with a tangible vision of how your new habit will impact your life will serve as additional motivation to stay focused in the process of habit change. (Here’s an article with more tips for visualization).
Avoid an All or Nothing Approach
Making a new long-lasting habit part of you might prove hard in the initial phase, but that should not discourage you. People can expect perfection of themselves, and then, if they have a setback, they might decide that they’re terrible at what they’re doing, abandoning their efforts all together. Realize that setbacks are a normal part of the development process. If you have one, forgive yourself, look at what you might have done differently, and then get back on track. Sure, there will be hurdles along the way. Just don’t let them bring you down.
Know the Consequences if You Don’t Change Your Habits
For some people, thinking about consequences of maintaining the status quo can serve as an additional motivator. For example, if you don’t develop your time management skills, you could think about how it might prevent you from being able to achieve your career goals. Or, if you don’t make lifestyle changes, perhaps that could have an impact on your ability to fully engage with your family. If you don’t take the time to build relationships and network, it could make it harder for you to be the leader you want to be. While you probably don’t want to stay dwelling too much on the negative, a sobering reality check can sometimes act as a catalyst that will keep you moving in the right direction – even when it’s hard.
Last but not least, the more consistent you are, the easier it will be for new habits to stick and become part of you. For example, if you want to spend more time reading to learn more about your field, you should aim to set guidelines to create a regular habit, by reading at the same time every day (or week). When cues like time of day, the location, and circumstances are consistent, the new habits will stick faster and longer.
Creating a new habit is not always easy. However, it is very doable and achievable if you commit to being the new person with the new habits right now. Just take small, incremental steps in your journey, and you will get there!