Change is never easy, but when it’s forced upon us, we learn to deal and hopefully begin to thrive. Initiating change for ourselves is even more difficult. Whether it’s going to the gym, eating more healthily or becoming a better friend to those in your life, we all have our habits. Some are harder to kick than others.
According to Develop Good Habits, there are steps that can be put in place to help you set new habits that will actually stick. It’s 2018, squad – let’s take all the help we can get.
1 Focus on one habit at a time
This is not a spring-clean. Unfortunately, we can’t lob the things we no longer need into a rubbish bag to be given away, only to replace them with something better. You only have so much energy to spare and because of this, you need to set one new habit at a time.
‘The important thing here is to identify a habit you can do all the time – something that will fit into your life which can be completed on a daily basis, even when you don’t feel like it,’ says author of Habit Stacking SJ Scott.
2 You need to commit to it for a minimum of 30 days
Scott points out that while some people say it takes 21 days and others say 66 days, the truth is, the time it takes for a new habit to take hold differs for everyone.
‘You’ll find that some habits are easy to build, while others require more effort. My advice is to commit to a specific habit for the next 30 days (or a month to keep it simple),’ Scott explains.
‘During this time, your entire life should be structured around carving out time every day to consistently do it.’
3 Attach your new habit to an old one
‘A habit shouldn’t be based on motivation, fads or temporary desire. Rather, it should be instilled in your life to the point it becomes habitual,’ Scott advises. So, how can you do this? He recommends attaching your new habit to an existing one. For example:
- When I’ve packed up and am leaving the office each day, I’ll change into my gym clothes in the bathroom.
- While I prepare dinner, I’ll pack my lunch for work the next day.
You get the drift. Anchoring your new habit to an old one will give you more of a chance at making it stick.
4 Plan for a spanner in the works
Like I said, it’s 2018. Life is wild – and when it rains, it pours. Obstacles will inevitably arise and, according to Scott, it’s important to know this going in. Some common examples of the obstacles we face in sticking to our habits are the following:
By anticipating these issues, you can mentally prepare for them and come up with a plan B. Scott calls this ‘If-Then Planning’, and it goes a little something like this:
- ‘If I check the weather and it’s raining, then I will work out at the gym instead.’
- ‘If I don’t have time for my project at the end of the day, I will wake up 30 minutes earlier and work on it before anything else.’
5 Keep track of your progress and reward yourself
‘You’re more likely to follow through with a commitment when you’re being observed by others,’ Scott explains. Tell the people in your life what your goal is, update your social media or chat with someone going through something similar. All of this will help keep you accountable and motivated.
And when it comes to rewarding yourself, please do! ‘Focus on building a reward system into the process so you can take time to celebrate the successful completion of your goals. ‘
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