If you don’t know this already, habits are powerful things and have a massive impact on our lives, so it makes sense to follow good habits, doesn’t it? And there are numerous ways that will show you how to develop good habits.
Take a look on Amazon or in your local bookstore and you’ll see many books with “21 days” somewhere in their titles. In many of these titles, it has to do with some form of positive or good habit that the author is going to try to help you accomplish to change your life for the better.
Most of these authors will tell you this number is based on scientific studies. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant. On a personal note, I believe that 30-60 days is much more likely to succeed in instilling habits that last a lifetime.
When you perform the same tasks repeatedly for 21 days, they will start to become a routine. The problem with setting a hard number to this is that people may abandon it after they reach the threshold. In other words, if you do something every day for 21 days, after the 21st day, you may feel as though you accomplished the task and move on, but it is easy to “forget” your new habit and slip back into old habits if you aren’t careful.
A better approach for adopting new habits is to set up a plan that is longer term. Have milestones for the short term but project out for a much longer period. This way when 21 days passes, you still have a game plan to reference. This gives you something to shoot for after that time.
Another tip is to find people who are trying to form the same habits as you. Create times when you can all talk together, either in person or via some conferencing solution. It’s easier than ever to do this with the Internet. The members of this group can discuss what has worked for them and what has not been successful. Avoid the unsuccessful tasks. Try to keep the groups small. Large groups will force many members to become complacent and defer to the stronger personalities.
Being a member of a group gives you motivation, but perhaps, more importantly, it gives you accountability because you can make your goal public in the group and you won’t want to let them down, and they will push you to achieve it.
Here are 5 steps to developing good habits.
1. Start Off Small
It’s natural to want to make big changes to your life as quickly as possible but this is a mistake that many people make. They take on more than they can handle and become frustrated with lack of progress and eventually give up.
Does this sound familiar?
Instead, try to break down your big goal into smaller chunks and keep going until you can identify small daily tasks that you know you can achieve, and this will inspire you to keep going. It all adds up, and you will reach your goal in next to no time and you can have fun along the way 🙂
If you want to know more about enjoying the journey while tackling your goals, take a look at this great training here as it will really give you some insight into the fact that the goal is just the destination, and you can also enjoy every step of the process too. It is a real eye-opener and I highly suggest you take a look here.
I also have a nice infographic that you can view all about enjoying your journey 🙂
2. Get Crystal Clear
When deciding on which habit you want to instill in yourself, you need to get crystal clear on what it is, and what the desired end result is. There is no room for vagueness here. If you don’t know exactly what you want, then you will not stick to it, plain and simple.
Visualise what you want to achieve and be intentional. Use If/Then types of scenarios to trigger you to take action, such as “If I’ve got out of bed, then I’ll do 10 pushups before breakfast. This way, getting out of bed can act as a trigger for you to reinforce the habit you are trying to instill.
In a similar vein, you can simply add your new habit into your daily schedule. If it is important to you, then it is important enough to be put into your calendar and using online calendars, they can send you a reminder a few minutes before time. Simple, but very powerful.
3. Reward Yourself
Human nature means that we are so much better at berating ourselves over something we haven’t achieved, rather than rewarding ourselves for something we have achieved.
You want to flip this behaviour on its head and reward yourself for even the smallest of wins.
If you don’t reward yourself, you won’t be motivated to keep going (willpower simply isn’t enough), so use rewards as a positive reinforcement to encourage you to stay the course.
Whenever you reward yourself for making progress, you activate the “reward areas” in your brain.
This releases some key chemicals, such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, which make you experience feelings of achievement and pride. These emotions, in turn, empower you to take action and create bigger successes in the future.
4. Use your environment
Many psychologists will tell you that your environment can have a huge impact on the way you think and feel, so you need to use this you your advantage.
For example, Have you ever walked into your kitchen, spotted a plate of cookies on the counter, and eaten them just because they were in front of you without even thinking about it? Come on, admit it 🙂
The good thing is that we can use the environment to trigger good habits too, so what can you do to accomplish this?
Do you watch too much TV in your living room when you know you should be reading? Why not put a book on the chair where you sit, and put the remote control on the other side of the room? A simple enough thing to do, but you are much more likely to reach for the book, than get up off the sofa to grab the remote!
5. Go Public
I have already mentioned the power of accountability by going public, but you can also take this a step further by pre-committing to your habit publicly and attaching a penalty for not sticking to it.
This could be feeling guilty if you promise to meet someone at the gym and you don’t show up.
Or it could be financial, by paying that person an amount of money whenever you don’t show up. This can be a powerful motivator to stick to your guns.
So, there are 5 simple steps you can take to form new habits in yourself. However, if all else fails, you can seek professional help. There are plenty of coaches and mentors available to give you some guidance.
Make sure your coach and you both know what is expected of each other and have any provisions in place before you get started in case it doesn’t work out.
However, hopefully by following the 5 steps in this article, you won’t need a coach 🙂
So, what habit are you going to start building today?