We Are The Sum Of Our Habits
Before we discuss how to start a habit and keep it, it is important to acknowledge the importance of habits in our lives. Most of us are aware of the fact that our habits impact our physical health and, our mental well-being. Habits provide structure and a sense of order in our lives. Our personality consists of some good habits and some bad habits. However, it is not possible for the brain to decide independently what habits are good and what habits are bad. Our subconscious needs cues from our conscious mind. Moreover, the value of our habits is determined by our personal goals and ethics which differ from individual to individual. One standard way to determine good habits is that they move us toward our goal or destination. In contrast, bad habits block us or slow us down from reaching our goal or destination.
Start a habit, But Balance is the key
Good habits give us a healthy routine, which is definitely a positive thing. However, it is also very important to be flexible. Being too rigid in the face of uncertainty does us more harm than good. We should always be the master of our habits and not let habits control us to the point of becoming rigid. The purpose of a healthy habit is to improve our life, hence we are well served when we do our best to stick to healthy habits. However, we also have to be aware and respectful of any unforeseen change in our environment. Our behavior has to be flexible when time demands. As a result, sometimes we may have to put our habits on hold, explore replacing some of the existing habits with new habits, or even give up a particular habit completely. As in everything else in life, balance is the key.
How to start a habit and keep it: 10 suggested ways
Starting a habit can be a challenging task. It can also be overwhelming to stick to a new habit in the face of already existing responsibilities and tasks. Moreover, there are many questions that come to mind before our habit-starting journey. How to start a habit and keep it, how many days does it take to start a habit, how long does it take to stick to a habit? Here are a few tips on how to start a habit and keep it :
1. Writing it down
Write down the new habit you are going to start. Jot down the process, goals, and possible benefits of your new routine. Writing gives more clarity to our resolutions. Track and write down progress and fallbacks. When we write the details of our journey, we feel more accountable for our own behavior and can understand the adjustments we need to make to along the way.
2. Be patient
It takes time to change. You may find it rather easy to start a habit, but give yourself enough time to make it stick. According to some experts, it takes 4 weeks for a habit to become a regular part of a routine.
3. Set up practical cues and reminders to overcome a lack of motivation.
Sometimes mental resolution is not enough in itself to keep us motivated. We need reminders to stay motivated. For example, if you are trying to start a habit of eating healthy, you can remind yourself how well you feel after you eat a healthy wholesome meal! Or If you are trying to meditate regularly, remind yourself how calm you feel after you meditate.
4. Watch your Company
As they say, we are the company we keep! Surround yourself with people who inspire you to reach your goals. Spend time with your role models whose behavior you want to mirror. Your goal will become less intimidating and will seem more achievable when you hang out with like-minded people with behavior you seek in yourself.
5. Optimize your environment for success
Sometimes will power alone is not sufficient to change behavior to start a new habit. Identify your temptations. Don’t avoid them. Remove temptations from your environment. For example, if you are trying to start a habit of smoking-free living, get rid of all cigarettes and lighters.
6. Know the price
Be aware of what you stand to lose by not sticking to the new habit you started. The consequence of failing may help you stay on track.
7. Piggy-ride with another established habit
Many experts have an excellent tip they call habit stacking. Attach your new habit to an already established habit. For example, if you want to start a habit of going for a walk in the evening, go for a walk after an already established habit of eating dinner. The chances of success will rise if you plan the exact time or process of practicing a new habit. Attaching it to an already existing habit will serve as a reminder.
Start a new habit with a supportive buddy. Research has shown that having a buddy is key to staying motivated and focused.
9. Be Consistent
It requires consistent effort to reach a goal. With consistency, we can form habits that become almost like second nature. It is okay to falter once in a while but be sure to go back to the routine as quickly as you can. We have to be consistently focused otherwise we will likely fall back into old habits. Power of attention and focus is a strength that will keep us consistent.
10. Reward yourself
Every time we start a new habit we should regularly reward ourselves for milestones. Each milestone should offer some small reward that makes us feel accomplished and gives us an incentive to keep going.
Yes, changing old patterns of behavior and thoughts is hard. Starting a new habit is challenging and sticking to it even more so. Having said that, it is also important to acknowledge that nothing is beyond us. With consistency, resolve and some expert tips we can transform ourselves and inculcate habits that allow us to live a life we envision for ourselves.