'We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.' -Aristotle.
Habits formed effectively and followed routinely help us live a more productive life. Today, we are going to discuss about ‘how to form a new habit’. Habits are clearly the trick of our brain to help us set a routine without making us feel exhausted or low. It is something which our brain makes us do by automating tasks and in turn forming a routine. So, we all know that we have to switch off the gas whenever we finish cooking. That is how our brain has auto-tuned us to function. It is a habit which makes us do that.
Forming a new habit can be difficult. So in today’s post we will discuss about how these new habits are formed. This should help you form a new habit which is both effective and sustainable.
FORMING A NEW HABIT DEPENDS ON THESE THREE FACTORS
In Charles Duhigg’s book ‘The Power of Habit’, he speaks about this formula which forms the core of every habit. It is a loop that consists of three parts: Cue, Routine and Reward.
The cue is the part that triggers the response. To form a new habit, you first need to identify the cue. That will ensure that you stick to the habit even if your circumstance day-to-day changes. For example, if you want to build a new habit of drinking more water every day. So the cue would be to carry a bottle of water with you every day as a reminder to drink more water. Or even if you’re currently working from home then the cue to form the habit of drinking more water could simply be to leave a bottle of water near your desk so that you are regularly reminded to drink more water.
Eventually the routine will be set and followed on autopilot. For example, if your New Year resolution is to form the habit of reading every day for at least 20mins. Make sure to keep a book ready by your bed side. Seeing the book there will ensure that you remember to read. That is the cue- but keeping the book ready is ensuring that you’ve onset the routine which will follow by actually having you read the book every night before going to bed.
Finally, we need to know what reward we would get by setting the new habit. This simply means that you need to know why that habit has to be formed, how it will benefit you. If your new habit to be formed is to journal regularly, then the reward could be that journaling helps you organise your thoughts and help you with feeling more productive. If your new habit is to meditate regularly then the reward could be that it gives you mental peace and helps you feel good about yourself. Soon your mind will be eager to want that reward as soon as you see the cue and it will also ensure that you follow the routine to form that new habit.
Besides that, to form a new habit you have to break old ones.
BREAKING OLD HABITS
To form new habits we need to learn to break old ones. This simply means that if you want to form a new habit to eat healthy than you need to stop binge eating junk food. This would mean replacing it with healthy alternatives, buying no junk foods while shopping for groceries and even stopping takeouts.
You can easily do this by simply changing the routine. So if you’ve got the habit of snacking on junk while watching TV, then replace that with some healthy snacks like some fruits, nuts, calories-free snacks, etc. By doing this you are not resisting the craving but you are redirecting it to a healthier option.
All this and more can be done if we give each new habit enough time to form.
GIVING ENOUGH TIME FOR THE NEW HABIT TO FORM
It is crucial to give a new habit enough time to form. Whenever anyone, including me, tries to form a new habit and if it is one of those boring habits like exercising daily then I personally find it too overwhelming and most of the times see myself giving up on it. But now I’ve decided to give it time to grow on me.
For every new habit that we want to form, we have to give that new habit time to develop and nurture. Set up your habits for success and let time do all of the hard work for us.
IDENTIFY HOW THIS NEW HABIT WILL HELP YOU
It is important to determine how this new habit which you’ve decided to form will help you. It is also very important to first identify this new habit. The new habit you want to form must be a well thought out habit and not something unachievable or vague. Because if it is, then you won’t be motivated to achieve it.
Another important aspect could be to form the identity we want for ourselves by achieving these habits. For example, identify what you want to be by the end of 2021. For me, I want to quit my 9-5 job and be a full time blogger. What are the habits I’ll have to form to ensure I am able to do this? I’ll have to create a to-do-list daily and follow it. Being more mindful and productive during the day will also help me achieve this goal. I’ll have to spend more time and publish a new blog post regularly and consistently. All these habits will help me achieve my goal of becoming a full-time blogger.
To ensure that these identity forming habits are formed and achieved, we have to do them over and over again. Implementing these five techniques will help you form a new habit.
BROADLY SPECIFY THE NEW HABIT
To form a new habit, we have to be specific what our intentions of forming that new habit are. Knowing the when, the where, the how often and the what is very crucial in forming a new habit.
You can also club this new habit with an existing habit. This will ensure that you do it without fail because it is now part of your old routine.
For example, I decided to read a book daily for 20mins before I sleep. I make sure to do this as soon as I finish journaling, which is something I started doing last year. By putting those two habits together, it has ensured that I do it every day without fail. Also, by doing this it will make the new habit feel less of a burden and more of a fun and rewarding activity.
PREPARE YOUR MINDSET
To adapt to anything new in our lives it is important to first set the proper mindset. This simply means we need to make sure that we set the right intention and only then we will want to form this new habit for our own betterment and wellbeing.
Our mindset is what determines if we are going to really enjoy something. This can be done by using positive affirmations while trying to form new habits. If you want to develop the habit of cooking more nourishing meals at home. You can say something like I get to try out new dishes every day. Instead of saying something like I have to cook to avoid buying takeouts.
Finally, it is the mindset which will ultimately determine if a new habit is something we want to continue or not and why is it important to form that new habit.
ERADICATE ALL OBSTACLES
We need to find out what are the various obstacles which will stop us from forming new habits or even repeating the habit we want to form. This means that we need to identify these obstacles and make sure to avoid them by eradicating them completely.
Eradicating all obstacles will ensure we do not drop out before we’ve given enough time for a habit to settle in.
As a food blogger, I want to learn how to style and photograph food. Some of the obstacles might be that my camera battery isn’t charged enough whenever I’m ready to photograph the food I’ve cooked. To ensure this doesn’t happen, a new habit to form is to plan in advance for the photoshoot and ensure that I’ve put the batteries to charge the previous night or first thing in the morning. Another habit I could form related to this is to charge the batteries every time I’ve finished working on a project and keep them ready for whenever I have to shoot again.
Rewarding yourself every time you’ve performed a certain habit will help you crave that habit formation even more. Good habits reward at a later stage and might not feel that good at the moment. Bad habits on the other hand reward at the begin but are bad for us in the long run and eventually we end up paying a price for them.
By rewarding ourselves at the end of the habit, we tend to reinforce the want to do it over and over again. Personally, I love food and do not particularly like exercising but now that we are in a lockdown and that I’ve got more time at hand and a proper routine, I try to exercise at least 3-4 times a week. I end my new habit of exercising every time by having a nice smoothie with fruits and veggies at the end of each session. I also tend to meditate for at least 30mins post workout. This helps me wanting to do it more and honestly I’m loving it.
CREATING A SUITABLE ENVIRONMENT
Our environment plays a huge role in the formation of new habits. For example, I can never be productive if I work by sitting on the bed as my brain knows and understands that I use my bed to sleep, rest and relax. Instead sitting at my desk allows me to work more effectively and hence be more productive.
Another important point for me when I try forming a new habit is surrounding myself with like-minded people. People that will motivate me to do better and that goes for anything really in life. It is always good to surround yourself with like minded people. Those that have a motivation to do better in life. Those that live their lives in a very positive manner.
Focus on targeting one habit at a time and include them into your daily routine activity. This will ensure that you effectively follow them and in turn form a lasting habit. I would suggest making a note of any habits you want to change or form and find out the cue, routine and rewards for the same. Use the five techniques mentioned above to help you form a new habit.
Comment below and let us know what are the habits you want to accomplish and form this year 2021. We would love to know.
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Signing off, see you soon xx