If You Want to Create A New Habit, Try This!
Healthy habits is often about the small things that you do often, not about the big things you do once in a while. It’s always better to get in a little movement every day than to exercise for two hours once a week. It’s better to eat a little bit of greens every day rather than a huge salad once a week. We need a regular sleep schedule most nights of the week as opposed to sleeping in on Sunday to compensate for too little sleep the rest of the week.
“Good habits make time your ally, bad habits make time your enemy.” ~ James Clear
But it’s not always easy to create those healthy habits and stick to them over time. This article is about six important factors, from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, that’ll help you succeed in cultivating the new habits that you know will improve your life.
1. Focus on identity. By focusing on the person you want to become instead of the things that you will do you will ingrain the healthy habits into your identity which makes it easier to maintain over time. Instead of stating that you will eat a salad every day, become a person who makes healthy choices at every meal. Instead of deciding you want to run a marathon, become a great runner. When you know what person you want to become (e.g. a person who makes healthy eating choices or a good runner), what choices would this person make, what habits would he/ she have? That should be your new habit.
2. Be specific. Now that you’ve decided on your habit (keep it simple), get specific on when, where and how you will perform this habit. If you want to start a meditation practice, when, where and how will you do it? For example; every morning, right after getting out of bed, I will use the app Insight Timer for a 10-minute meditation.
3. Mindset is everything. You don’t have to do anything. There are no rights or wrongs, there are only consequences to your choices. And in the case of setting healthy habits, you want the positive consequences of better health, more strengths, stronger vitality or improved life quality. You get to have all those things because you choose what you want to do. Your words matter. You get to eat healthily because you want to, no one is forcing you. You are empowered to make any choice you want to. What do you get to do?
4. Identify the obstacles. We often run into obstacles in our lives. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. What obstacles can you see in you setting your healthy habit? How can you overcome those obstacles right now? And make sure your new habit isn’t an obstacle on its own. Keep it simple and doable.
5. Build in rewards. It might take some time to reap the positive benefits of your new habit. Build in rewards along the way. For example, if you want to get into the habit of running, reward yourself with a nice stretch to some good music right after every run.
6. Create a helpful environment. Our environment can trigger good or bad habits. For example, if you want to replace a habit of spending most of your evenings in the couch watching Netflix with journaling half an hour before bed. Change location and set up a new cozy place for you that you can condition with your journaling.
Some say we are the average of the five people we spend most of our time around. So, make sure you are inspired and cheered on by people who already have this routine going. We adapt to the people around us, ask for support from the people that are already good at what you’re trying to achieve.
It’s not always easy to set a new habit. But I hope these steps will inspire you to get started and believe that you can do it. And if you want to figure out and work through some of your mental resistance, go back and read my previous article “Why aren’t we doing what we know is good for us?”.
This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are the writer’s own.