If we want to look into the answer to why our life is the way it is, then we must simply look into the habits we have formed. Many of us even though we know we got to change our habits, find it extremely difficult to form new habits and even more, to stick to them.
I myself used to be a very lazy and sleepy girl. I had no discipline or motivation.
But now I get up at 5 am, I have a beautiful morning routine, I make time to read every day, exercise every day, and also built the habit of praying, meditating, and sleeping early (when earlier I used to be a night owl)
My life has become simple, steady, and I feel I am on the right track in life. It is all because of the new habits I was able to build and stick to and slowly it changed my life.
So today I want to share how to easily form new habits and stick to them.
How to form new habits that stick
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1. Determine which new habit you want to create
The first step to form new habits is to determine which new habit you want to create.
Don’t try to change all of your habits or try to form more than one new habit.
Maybe it is the reading habit, writing habit, exercise habit, or anything. Sometimes determination is all you need to form a new habit.
Little things that help in strengthening determination that I have found are:
- Writing down the date you started with the habit in your calendar or in your notebook
- Noting your progress in a diary/ journal. Even a simple, day 1- done will do
- Praying for determination and strength in the morning
- Keeping a physical calendar to strike down every time you complete do the action.
2. Work on one new habit for 21 days
Work on this new habit for 21 days in a row and never miss a day. Even if you do miss a day, don’t feel bad and simply start again the next day.
One thing that I have found helpful is to have a calendar in front of me on which I can strike for 21 days and track my progress.
These desk calendars are wonderful.
When you can see your progress physically, you don’t want to miss it.
3. Set up when you plan to do it
To stick to a new habit, set up when you plan to do it.
Just saying ‘I will start this new habit from tomorrow’ won’t do. You probably have been saying tomorrow for the longest time and it just doesn’t give you any motivation.
This is not because you lack motivation or discipline, but it is mainly because our brain likes certainty. It does things and reminds you to do things only that which it absolutely knows.
Once you set up when you plan to do it, you are more likely to do it. See it for yourself!
The one that has worked for me in building new habits is to do them early in the morning and most of them are included in my morning routine. I don’t use my phone once I get up and straight away start with my morning rituals.
4. Allow yourself to be a beginner
Often the main reason I have slipped back on forming new habits is that I tend to expect too much from myself.
I tend to think that if I can’t do it perfectly, then it’s of no use, but whenever the thinking is such I have slipped.
Allow yourself to be a beginner, to learn, to adapt to the new thing. Focus on showing up, make the new habit easy to show up, be easy and kind to yourself and be a beginner. That is how you stick to new habits.
Related Post: Embracing the joy of not knowing
5. Make the habit easy to show up
In the words of Leo Babauta of Zen habits, ‘Make it so easy that you can’t say no’.
In the beginning, simply focus on showing up and not on perfection.
The one reason why we don’t stick to new habits for long is that we make it too difficult. You need to make it easy for you to stick to.
Want to start reading every day? Commit to just open the book and read for 5 minutes at a specific time.
Want to start running every day? Commit to just put on your exercise clothes and shoes and go out.
Want to start waking up early? Commit to waking 10 minutes early each day.
6. Make tiny progress
Only when you allow yourself to be a beginner will progress come. Don’t expect to be perfect from the start. Make tiny progress instead.
Whatever new habit you want to create, start small and make progress from there.
Don’t think about how long it will take to reach perfection or to reach the desired result.
Do it bit by bit. Progress bit by bit. Time will pass anyway.
7. Be aware of your resistance
The truth is you won’t always feel motivated. But the truth also is that you don’t need motivation. You just need to bring in awareness.
Awareness means simply to witness your mind- witness what you are trying to avoid and witness what you are craving.
When you are resisting or craving something, notice it and be aware.
Simply notice how your mind makes excuses and tries to resist the changes you are trying to bring. Or it can also be that it is craving for your old habit patterns to return.
Simply notice it and be aware. That is the way you win over your mind.
Related Post: 3 little known tricks on building self-discipline
8. Take care of the outer environment
Your outer environment is what helps you build or break your habit. You need to make your environment support you and make it easy for you to build your new habits.
Here are some ways:
- Want to start working out? Place your workout clothes in front of you so you don’t have to keep searching.
- Want to start a morning routine? Don’t use your phone first thing in the morning
- Want to start reading? Keep your phone aside and keep a book instead.
- Keep reminders on your phone when you plan to do the habit.
- Place sticky notes in places you can see
9. Get back on track quickly:
If you miss a day or two, get back on track quickly. Again, notice your resistance and try not to miss for more than 2 days in a row.
10. Focus on the action and not the result
Lastly, the most important, when trying to form any new habit, focus on the action. Focus on the present moment and not on the results.
Whether you are starting the habit of exercising to reduce weight, forget about it.
Whether you want to start meditating to find more peace, forget about it, and at that moment, just be with the action.
Make your actions ‘total’- as if there is nothing you want out of it. Make your actions ‘whole’ and be thankful you are able to do it.
The result will come if you only focus on the present moment.
Forget the end result and see how easily you form your new habit and stick to it.