Forming habits that stick is no joke. Let me rephrase that. Forming good habits is the real challenge! Learn tips you should start using today to form GOOD habits in your life!
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Forming Habits that stick using these 7 tips:
If you have followed Love Our Real Life for any length of time, you know that goals are a big deal to me. But, goals mean very little if you don’t create a system to follow through.
Because this is an area of interest for me, I have read all sorts of books over the years about the best strategies to stay on track with new habits. We are all human, however, and oftentimes these strategies are only somewhat effective.
I am summarizing the top ideas and tips I find to be most helpful for forming new habits. Specifically forming new GOOD habits;-)
1. Forming habits: Make the new action CONVENIENT
A great example of this for me is reading my Bible daily. Although it is something that is incredibly important to me, life gets busy and I was “forgetting” more often than I wanted to admit. Despite my intrinsic motivation and desire to do this, I wasn’t using a convenient system.
A friend suggested using a daily devotion app on my phone.
Phone = always with me = convenient.
This brings me to how I remember to actually use this particular app…
2. Chain your new habit to a routine you already have established
I have a very solid morning routine. I get up, often before anyone else in the home is awake to work on blogging related tasks. Because some of the projects I’m addressing are time sensitive, sitting at my computer is usually the first thing I do after waking.
Seriously, the first thing.
But, after I’ve had the opportunity to deal with time sensitive issues, I reward myself with a cup of coffee.
This brings me back to the above mention of my daily devotion app. Chaining the Bible reading time with my coffee time is a great way to build upon a habit that already exists.
3. When forming habits: Find accountability to help you stay encouraged
Exercise is something I have never just loved. Many talk about a “runner’s high” but for all of the hundreds of miles I’ve run over the years, I have yet to experience this mystical feeling.
One thing that is incredibly motivating for me is being accountable to my running buddy. I have a friend that I’ve run with for over 10 years. When we determine we are meeting for an early morning run, there is no getting out of it.
I know she is depending on me, so the likelihood of me getting out of bed and exercising is really good. On the days our schedules don’t jive, or when the weather is crummy, my success rate for running isn’t nearly as high!
In addition to the accountability factor, I believe the reward of having one-on-one friend time is also a big reason this is so successful. However you prefer to look at it, accountability of another person or simply the reward of having friend time, you will likely improve your success rate.
I didn’t have a picture with my friend, so Jason and I will have to do!
4. Avoid vagueness with your new habits
Telling yourself you are going to “eat healthy all week” looks a lot different than setting the goal of eating 2 fruits and 3 vegetables every day. By being specific and having a measurable objective, it will be very clear at the end of the day if you have met this goal or not.
You are probably realizing a goal such as this requires some forethought. In order to meet the goal (and eventually form the habit) of eating 2 fruits and 3 vegetables each day you will need to plan ahead.
In this example, that might mean packing your lunch the night before and ensuring the proper items are in your bag. This is very much related to #1 above. If you make it convenient and easy, you are more likely follow through.
5. Decrease your choices that could derail you from your new habit
Using the same example of eating more fruits and vegetables daily, try to eliminate unhealthy options if at all possible. Perhaps don’t buy cookies or chips or whatever you might be tempted to eat instead of the fruits/vegetables.
Make the bad choice inconvenient!
If the choices aren’t there for you that might lead to failure, it makes life a lot easier.
6. Reward yourself for a new habit IMMEDIATELY
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of “how should I reward myself?” when trying to form new behaviors. But, I find something simple and immediate is incredibly effective. Try to avoid things such as rewarding yourself at the end of the month for a new behavior.
That is too long to wait!
Examples of immediate rewards:
- Making dinner for your family. Your immediate reward = You are able to immediately sit down and enjoy the food and family time.
- Brushing your teeth. Your immediate reward = a fresh mouth!
- Using moisturizer with SPF. Your immediate reward = your skin feels smooth and your makeup looks smoother as well. An obvious long term effect is healthy, cancer free skin. BUT, it’s the immediate benefit that will keep you doing this behavior.
- Doing yoga. Your immediate reward = the feeling of relaxation and calm.
Obviously we all have different ways of viewing the world. BUT, it is key to find something that is an immediate reward for a new action you are hoping to make into a habit.
It’s the feeling we get from our reward that is typically what keeps us coming back for more.
Remember how I mentioned that I love my morning coffee. If I am 100% honest, I love coffee, but the flavor isn’t the absolute best part of drinking a cup of coffee for me. Although it is pretty amazing!
What keeps me coming back for more each morning is the feeling of holding the hot mug in my hands for a few moments, smelling the coffee brewing, even the sounds the coffee pot makes. All of those feelings make drinking coffee a comforting and rewarding experience.
Find a simple and immediate reward and you’ll want to keep repeating a behavior!
7. Have some grace for yourself if you mess up
Try not to let a mistake throw you off track. It is really easy to just say “forget it!” if you lose focus and don’t do the new task you are trying to shoot for.
Simply do better next time. It will take a while for the new action to become a habit.
So how long does it take to form a new habit?
There is a huge discrepancy on the time line it takes for a new habit to stick. According to James Clear in his article How Long Does it Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science) between 2 and 8 months is the average.
That’s a long time!
So, make your life a little easier and try the 7 tips above to help you create new habits.
Are you ready to start forming habits that stick?
I certainly am!
For more posts that are certain to inspire:
- 5 TED Talks to Inspire You For Your Best Year Yet
- Worksheets to Set Your Goals for the Year, Quarter, Month, and Week
- 5 Tips to Get Motivated Today
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