Forming new habits

My last blog post discussed how sometimes you form new habits without really consciously trying to. Today’s post builds on that as we consider how to consciously form new habits.

Whilst we’re all different, there are some common things we can try to help us form new habits. Below are some questions you might want to ask yourself to help you when forming new habits.

1. What is the reason behind the desire for the new habit?

In order for a habit to stick, there usually has to be a good reason behind it to keep you motivated and on track. Any change, even one that you desire, can be a rollercoaster to manage in terms of the change to routine and the emotions around that. Being clear on the reason behind the desire for change is a common way to help support you during the change process. You might find it helpful to remind yourself of this on a regular basis – maybe it’s a short mantra you remind yourself or you have it written down somewhere or you include it in a vision board.

2. If you’re starting something new, what are you going to stop?

Often new habits mean doing something additional to what you’re currently doing, or doing something differently which may take more time as you learn. As we only have a set amount of time each day, to bring something new in, something else will have to stop or be minimised. In order to support yourself and increase the chance of the new habit sticking, you might find it helpful to work out what you’re going to choose to do less of or stop doing to make room for the new habit (this is a great opportunity for helping you re-prioritise).

3. What has worked for you in the past when you’ve developed new habits?

We’re all different and there are some things that will work really well for us and not so well for others. Think back to when you have successfully developed a new habit and what helped you then. How can you utilise that learning with the new habit? Maybe it was holding yourself accountable by sharing with someone else, or maybe it was keeping it to yourself until you’re ready to share. Maybe it was adding it to your diary or calendar until it becomes natural and you don’t have to think about it. Maybe it was doing the new habit at a set time/day. Use what has worked well in the past to help you. 

4. How could you break the new habit down into manageable stages?

When we want to change a habit, there’s usually an end goal we have in mind. Are there steps you could make towards that along the way? Maybe you could start small and gradually increase? The short-term sense of achievement as you achieve each step and it becomes normalised will help keep your motivation high and enable you to gradually integrate the new habit. Many habits can be done by gradually increasing the time or frequency for example. Start small and grow as you build your confidence and see the positive results. 

5. What will you reward yourself with when you’ve successfully developed the new habit?

Many of us work well with incentives and rewards, and when it’s something we’re doing for ourselves we can choose an appropriate reward mechanism. It might be a small reward each time, or it might be a larger reward we work up to. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that will also support your reason for the change in habit, and make sure it’s something you can enjoy and feel proud of. You’ve earned it – enjoy!

I hope these questions are helpful when you’re next wanting to form a new habit. Good luck, and welcome to taking more control of enjoying your life ????

What new habits would you love to be part of your life?