5 Steps to Develop a New Habit
What is a Habit?
Habits are the routines that shape our lives. They are the things we do repeatedly at an almost subconscious level. From sun-up to sun-down our lives are controlled by our habits.
Some are good and some are not so good. Successful people know how to get themselves into good habits that will propel them towards their goals.
A lot of individuals look for ways to break bad habits, which I believe is a very important thing to do. If there are habits that you are aware of that may be counterproductive to your goals, then you should work towards getting rid of them.
However, I am not going to focus on that side of the equation. Rather, I am going to discuss a five-step process to develop a new habit, and make it stick. But first, it is important to note why habits lead to success.
Why do Habits Lead to Success?
Habits shape your life and personality. As a result, they have a direct impact on your future successes. Due to the dedication needed to achieve most goals, it is important to have daily activities that are performed.
It could be draining to constantly be monitoring and thinking about what you are doing. This is where habits come into play. Creating a habit that you trust will set yourself on the right path for success, meaning you have taken a large amount of the guess work away.
Okay, so now that the importance of habits has been established it is time to jump right into the five steps to develop a new habit for yourself.
Five Steps to Develop a New Habit
Step #1: Commit to a time period
The first step is for you to commit to a certain time period. The time frame to create a new habit has been widely debated, with some saying 21 days, while others claim it could take up to 200 days. I personally believe it is different for every person.
That is why it is important for you to understand yourself and be honest. It may take you longer than others to get a habit to stick, and that’s okay. Just have that in mind going into it and prepare to stay with it for a certain amount of time.
From my experience, I need about a week for a habit to form. I am the type of person who really enjoys a routine, and once I find an activity, I believe is beneficial to me I can stick with it very well.
But there are times where it’s more difficult and I need to consciously make sure I perform the activity for at least a month to ensure it will become a habitual act.
Step #2: Start Small
The second step in the process of creating a new habit is to start small. You do not want to overwhelm yourself from the beginning, because it will increase the chances of you quitting. Use the concept of compounding as your friend.
By beginning small, you allow yourself time to become accustomed to the activity. Then you can begin to slowly increase whatever it is you are doing.
A good example of this is to think of someone who would like to begin going to the gym every day. Unless the person has incredible self-discipline, it may not be the best idea to start by going to the gym for an hour every single day.
They would possibly get burnt out very quickly. Instead, a wise move would be to begin by exercising for a few minutes a day, say 5-10.
Then increase it to 15 minutes, and so on. Eventually the individual will keep wanting more and more until they are habitually going to the gym every day for their desired amount of time.
"By beginning small, you allow yourself time to become accustomed to the activity. Then you can begin to slowly increase whatever it is you are doing."
Step #3: Make it Daily
The third step in developing a new habit is to make it daily. You want to make sure you begin performing your habit every day, because that will allow it to really sink in as being part of your routine. While this concept may seem daunting, it is important to remember the previous step, start small.
Just because you are doing something every day does not mean it has to take up a large amount of your time, or even be the same amount of time each day.
Some days you may be feeling more motivated than others, and that’s okay. Just be sure to do a little bit to ensure the habit becomes routine for you.
This was incredibly important for me when beginning to write. Thinking about writing a blog post seemed really scary when I first began. I was unsure how I would find time, or all the information to sit down and write a beneficial post.
However, I stuck to the concept of making the habit daily. So, no matter if I wrote five words or five hundred that day, I made sure I would write. Now, the process of writing has become easier for me since it is a habit that I do daily.
Step #4: Never Miss Twice
Step four is honestly one of the most powerful ideas I have discovered in both developing habits and strong self-discipline. The way it works is that whenever you miss doing the activity that you would like to turn into a habit, you force yourself not to miss twice in a row.
Once you miss a couple of times it is much easier to allow the activity to slowly fade into another failed attempt at creating a habit.
A prime example of this is with nutrition. Let’s say you are trying to get yourself into the habit of eating healthier, which entails cooking all your meals at home. This is a very admirable goal, but the reality is life can sometimes get into the way.
One night you have to stay at work really late. By the time you would get home cooking dinner is the last thing you want to do. Instead, you grab yourself a meal from chipotle on your way home.
There is nothing wrong with this due to the circumstances, however, under the rule of never miss twice you must be sure that you then cook at home the following day to continue with your habit.
Step #5: Have an Accountability Partner
The final step in creating a new habit involves finding someone you trust to hold you accountable.
Scott Young lists this as one of his tips on how to build new habits and make them stick on lifehack.org
This is a powerful tool because it plays into the human tendency to not want to let others down. You’ll see this a lot with people who are going to the gym.
If they have a partner to go with them, they are much more likely to show up.
Your accountability partner can be anyone really. A parent, a coach, a personal trainer, a friend, but the important part is they will not be afraid to let you know when you are slacking.
Being held accountable by someone else is important during the beginning stages of creating a habit because they make sure you do what needs to be done.
Habits truly are what shape our lives. That is why it is so important to make sure the habits that are controlling your life are positive, healthy, and beneficial to your long-term success. Knowing how to create a new habit will be of great value to you moving forward in your life.
Just like anything, the more you train yourself to take on a new habit and stick with it, the quicker you will be able to do it in the future.
I hope that this post serves you well in your pursuit for success. I would love to hear about any stories you have regarding habit formation from your own life. Is it easy for you, or do you find it difficult to create a new habit?
As always, I wish you the best and please reach out to me with any questions or concerns you may have in relation to the mental game and performance psychology.
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