Habits: whether they are good or bad, take a certain amount of time to develop and stick.
Research shows habits take anywhere from 21 to 42 days of consistent practice to become an actual habit.
Old habits are really hard to break, especially in a world where there is a huge trend in instant fixes and silver bullets. No one wants to take the time to really form life changes, but, science backs that habits only form after a prolonged period of time.
It is time for us to start taking charge of our own lives and the way we live them. Just how might you develop and keep useful habits for yourself, you ask? You can start by implementing some of the following, proven tips.
1. Set goals
First, you want to figure out what your goal really is. Are you wanting to eat healthier? Or do you want to stop smoking? Maybe you want to exercise more. Whatever it may be, set your goal to envision what it is that you actually want. Find sensible and achievable objectives. From there, you will be able to gather basic facts that will help you figure out what is best for you.
2. Develop a plan
In order to achieve any goal, you have to develop a plan to get there. So, it’s best to outline what is necessary to attain that goal. When you envision a plan, it makes it a little easier to organize the process of getting you to that healthy habit. This would be a good time to analyze your own priorities. Do not try to tackle too many things at once. Decide what you are capable of taking on and start from there.
3. Strategize the Steps
Not only should you outline your plan, but you should definitely strategize each step that it will take to get to developing a habit. If you want to get into the habit of regular exercise, then your steps may look something like:
1. Getting a gym membership
2. Consulting with a trainer
3. Buying the right workout gear
4. Logging a certain amount of minutes per week.
4. Don’t Just Think About it, Write it Out
It is one thing to think about your plan, but it is another to write it out. You can place sticky notes to remind yourself to stay on your path. Another good thing to do is to place your plan onto paper. This might even help you identify some harmful patterns that have prevented you from achieving your plans in the first place. As you begin to jot down all these items, it becomes easier to track and log achievements as well as obstacles, all of which are important to helping you visualize your goals.
5. Determine Your Reasoning
Why do you want to create a healthy habit? You want to have a clear and meaningful purpose for wanting to make a change. Identifying that justification will help keep you on track towards meeting your goals. For instance, wanting to reduce your risk for heart disease is a great reason to start eating healthier and exercising more.
6. Set Reminders
Pull out your calendar and set mini deadlines for yourself. These small steps will help keep you on track in developing useful habits. Reminders assist with keeping you accountable and focused on your plans. You can also develop some self-talks to keep yourself motivated. Remind yourself of why you started and how good it will feel once you get there.
7. Remain Positive
Habits are not easy to form, especially if they are opposite from other habits you’ve grown accustomed to over the years. So, you may have moments where you might feel discouraged. One very important thing to remember is that you should always attempt to remain positive. You might even want to reward yourself with positive reinforcements to continue the trend of healthy habit forming.
8. Do Your Research
In the millennium of fast and instantaneous information, it would be good for you to do some research on your specified goals. If your goal is to lose weight, you’ll want to look up healthy and effective strategies that others have used to accomplish the same goal. If you want to quit smoking, research the different methods out there that have been proven to help. Whatever it may be, study up on the best practices that you can use for yourself.
9. Be Patient
There is a lot to the saying of “Slow and steady wins the race.” In fact, studies show that the length of time it takes for a habit to form is up to 66 days. Things cannot change overnight. Yes, you should always see the bigger picture, but achieving small victories along the way will help you stick to your plans a lot easier. You find more and more satisfaction and motivation each time you achieve a small goal that takes you closer to the bigger objective.
10. Stay Consistent Even When You May Mess Up
We are all human and it is okay that occasionally, we may slip up in our journey. What builds us back up is the ability to admit to the mistake and move forward. We only fall because it gives us the opportunity to jump back, stronger and better.
Just like with sticking to a specific diet, you cannot expect positive results if you cheat on your meals. It is important to remain consistent in your plan and process towards developing your habit. Yes, there may be mistakes along the way, which are normal, but the important thing is to steady the course.
Repetition and giving yourself the time to adjust are definitive ways to get you to the point of where you want to be: healthy, sustaining habits. Rome wasn’t built in a day. As a human being, you have to determine what is best for you and your body.
Not all habits are created equal, either. What works for your friends, will not necessarily be what works best for you. Discover what you want for yourself and why you want to get there. After that, everything aspect will be the journey you take towards bettering yourself.
For further reading grab the book The Power of Habit on Amazon.