Making a new or breaking an old habit is tough stuff! Oh, the temptation to stay just as we are.
We’re creatures of habit. The habits you’ve formed in your life are there because you’ve literally done them thousands of times – they’re cemented into your being. So what do we do when we want to make or break a habit? How do we set ourselves up for success?
Take a moment to delve into our favourite habit-forming methods tips (gathered from several habit experts), so you can finally conquer what you’ve been craving for years.
Tell me what you want, what you really really want?
We all have things we think we want. Exercising more. Meditating. Eating healthier. But focusing on the habit itself doesn’t help us to always feel determined to reach it.
Humans are motivated by feelings. To start, ask yourself, “Why do I want this?” Discovering the why uncovers your true motivation and might help you figure out the how.
Ok, so you want to exercise more. Why? To feel stronger? To fit better in your clothes? To be able to have more energy to play with your kids?
What’s the real motivation? Once you know this, it will help you figure out the best way to achieve that goal – the real reason – versus just the surface goal itself.
Ask yourself: Why do I really want to start this habit? What’s important to me about doing this? What do I want to do, be or have as a result of this habit?
Get super clear.
In James Clear’s four-star book Atomic Habits, Clear reminds us that the simple act of writing down a habit increases our chances of completing it by a considerable margin. He suggests getting clear (no pun intended) about your habit right from the start. We like to call it a recipe for a habit.
Write down (even put it on your fridge or your workspace) this recipe for your goal: I will HABIT in LOCATION at TIME
i.e. I will MEDITATE FOR 5 MINUTES in the BEDROOM at 7:00 AM
We, humans are pretty simple. With clear instructions, there’s no question when, where and how this new habit will happen. Clarity creates action.
Be willing to fail – and not give up!
We’re only human. (Repeat this to yourself!) When we start a new habit or goal, we’ll inevitably have a moment of failure. We won’t be perfect, and expecting it of ourselves is unrealistic. In fact, most people fail at their habits, because they fail at their habits.
It happens like this: they forget to do the habit one day, then decide if they can’t be perfect, there’s no sense in continuing. Failure creates more failure!
In the book Finish by Jon Acuff, he says the key to keeping up a new habit is to develop a tolerance for imperfection. When you start, assume that you’ll fail, and make a plan of what you’ll do not if, but when you fall off the wagon.’
Write yourself a note you can read when you inevitably encounter failure. What do you want to tell yourself when you fail? How will you encourage yourself to start again?
Start with 50% of your ideal goal.
We’ve all been here: you set a big, lofty goal, only to get discouraged when life happens and your big plans fall through because they’re just not realistic.
The key to starting a new habit is just to get started, even in a small way! Developing the habit is the hardest part, but once it’s a habit, we can slowly work up to our ideal duration or regularity.
Let’s say you want to go from eating meat every night to eating plant-based dinners. To make it more doable, cut the goal in half. Start with just 3 nights of plant-based dinners per week – this will increase the likelihood of success.
Ask yourself: can I cut this goal in half, or can I double the time I need to complete this goal?
Data is your friend!
The only way we know if we’re successful is to measure our new habit or goal in some way. It’s easy to let emotions get the best of us, and in the process, miss out on the progress we’re making. Set a way to measure your progress to help you celebrate your wins.
Choose 1 – 3 ways to measure how your new habit is going. Do you count the number of words you write for your book each week? The kilometres you walk/run in a week? The number of fruits and veggies you eat each day? The amount of time you spend on Instagram? The number of books you read each month?
Happy, healthy habit making, dear wellness warriors 💪