The Art of Forming a New Positive Habit
Forming new habits, whether good or bad, change our lives and point us in a new direction. Today, you are basically the sum of the habits you have created. If you wake up at noon, play video games all day and go to bed at 4 am, you're the sum of those habits.
Before we get into how to form a new, positive habit, it's important to evaluate how happy your current habits make you. Most of us don't do a proper self-evaluation and only vow to change our habits when a new year is coming. However, those changes usually last about a week, maybe two, and you're right back to your old habits.
Habits are not easy to form or change. Even adjusting a current habit can take time to really stick. You may slip, but as long as you don't fall and stay down, you can form any new habit you want.
Understanding why you want to form the new habit
Forming a new habit starts with an understanding of why. If you don't know why you want to make the habit a part of your life, you'll likely give up before you even get close to forming it. Define the "why" before you start trying to create your new, positive habit.
For example, if you decide you want to start waking up at 7 am instead of noon, why do you want to wake up so much earlier? Maybe you want to get up earlier so you can enjoy more of the sunlight of the day or because you landed a new job requiring you to clock in at 9 am.
It doesn't so much matter what the reason is, but it does matter that you define the reason. Without a solid reason for waking up at 7 am instead of noon, your success with this new habit will likely be short-lived.
Creating a trigger
Habits often have a trigger. In a very simple form, the habit of looking at your phone after it makes noise, lights up or vibrates, is a habit in most people's lives. The trigger is the noise, light or motion of the phone. Once you hear, see or feel it, you automatically look at your phone to see if someone is calling, you have a text message or there is some other type of notification you should handle immediately.
With any habit, it's not much different. There's a trigger that causes you to behave in a certain way. New habits need a trigger to help them stick. After you have defined the "why" you need to create a trigger.
Building on the example above, if you want to wake up at 7 AM instead of noon, maybe your trigger is an alarm clock. Then, you turn on your light and get out of bed. While the alarm clock may be your initial trigger, turning on your light and getting out of bed may become the trigger that helps the habit stick.
Define the benefits & rewards
Along with defining the "why" of the new habit you want to form, it's important to define the benefits/rewards you will gain from the new habit. If you want to wake up earlier, maybe the benefits will be more productivity, peaceful time before the world becomes busy or the beauty of starting your day watching the sunrise.
Making your new habit stick
While it's a great start to define the "why", create a trigger and figure out the benefits/rewards you will gain from the new habit, this still isn't enough to make it stick, in most cases. Here are a few tips to help you make your new habit stick and become a real habit. Track your Progress
Whether you use a downloadable app or a simple calendar with a marker, you should track your progress. Mark each day you are successful and don't mark days you are not successful with your new habit. This will help you to see the chain forming of days, which can be very motivating.
Once you reach 21 days in a row, you'll have started to form the new habit. Get to 66 days and it should start to become something you just do without thinking about it much.
One habit at a time
Part of why most people fail when it comes to New Year's Resolutions is they try to take on too much.
They want to lose weight, read more books, spend more time with family and make more money. When they take all of this on, it's likely none will stick.
Instead of trying to take on 10 habits at once, concentrate on just one. Once you've made waking up at 7 am a habit instead of getting up at noon, you can start working on the next habit.
Don't give up after one failure
You're likely to fail at least a few times when forming a new habit. There will be a day that breaks your chain of days and causes you to wonder if you should even keep trying to form this new habit. Don't give up just because you have a bad day.
Remember, you're human and you're not perfect. Pick yourself back up and move on to the next day.
When you use these tips, combine with understanding the "why", creating a trigger and defining the benefits/rewards, you're more likely to form that new, positive habit.