7 Steps to Form a New Habit
I'm sure you've heard about all those books on the habits of successful people. And I'm sure you already know - virtually any achievement in life is followed by performing specific habits over and over again until you reach the desired effect. This is the compound interest that will skyrocket your capacity once you invest enough into your habits.
In this article, let's answer those questions and help you with starting on your habit building path and live a more fulfilling, happier life.
What Are Habits?
Some people say that habits define who you are. You can even view your whole life as a result of small micro habits that you conduct throughout your day. All those habits are fueled by certain motivations that predict gratifications at the end. Everything can fall into that category. From eating habits like having breakfast at a specific time, over to going out for a walk every evening.
But not all habits are good and healthy. In fact, it's way easier to develop a bad habit than a good one. Have you ever wondered why it's the case?
That's mainly because of the gratification delay. You see, most of the bad habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, playing video games or watching videos provide instant gratification. When you work out, you don't see an instant improvement in your look, do you? In fact, you're often exhausted, and the effect is completely reverse in a short run than what you'd get with a bad habit.
And I'm not saying you shouldn't watch a movie or play video games, but if you want to develop high-performance habits that will get your health, money or whatever it is you want, you need to work much harder to form them.
If you're wondering what's the best way to achieve this goal, then you'll be happy about the 7-step process we've created to help you with that. If you adhere to those rules, you'll be able to form any habit you want, I promise!
Read more: Why Habits are Important for Success
Step #1: Find the “WHY” of Habit Development
The person who has a “why” can bear almost any “how”
The first rule is pretty straightforward and simple in its nature, but it doesn't mean it's less important. In fact, this step might be one of the most critical steps on this list, so please don't skip it!
The author of this paraphrased sentence was Nietzsche. Originally, he was referring to life in general, but it can be applied to habit building. The idea is simple, you need to know why you are doing something in order to have the discipline and motivation to follow through with it. Otherwise, you'll be more likely to give up and abandon the initial idea.
Ask and ponder these questions:
- Why do you want to form this new habit?
- How is it going to improve your life?
- What are the direct and indirect benefits of developing this habit?
When you develop a clear vision and have a reason why you want to do this, then you'll be more likely to stick to it. It’s important that these habits provide you with real meaning. Remember, the person who has a clear purpose will manage to find a way despite countless obstacles.
SEE ALSO: 7 meaningful goals in life
Step #2: Write your Habits Down
To even further strengthen the habit from the start, we actually write it down on a piece of paper with a pen as a commitment to start developing habits. Writing it down, as studies have shown, signalizes the brain that this is important. It will be much more powerful than typing our phones or simply thinking about it.
Once you have written it down, now you have a responsibility with your words. And the journey officially gets moving.
SEE ALSO: Journaling ideas for self-improvement
Step #3: Take Small Steps And Be Persistent
We often overestimate the progress in the early stages and end up not doing the things we wanted because we're disappointed with how bad we're performing.
The fact is, change doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to form good habits, you'll need to put in a lot of work and start low. This can be very humbling and sometimes even humiliating. But even if you show up at the gym only to work out for 10-15 minutes, you're training something, that's even more valuable. You're training showing up at the gym.
This process will take months, or even a year depending on how challenging the change is. A consistent tracking process is almost non-negotiable if you want to actually make the habit stick.
In a couple of months or years, you'll find yourself in a different place as the compound interest starts kicking in. The habit becomes more and more automatic and you can start focusing on building more habits.
SEE ALSO: How to start building mini habits
Step#4: Team Up With A Partner
If you're already in a relationship, you can talk your partner into improving yourselves together. Every journey in life is easier and more fun when it's spent with a partner you can trust and motivate each other.
You also can’t simply count on your own motivation in the tough times. A partner can make you accountable for your commitment.
It doesn't have to be your intimate partner for that matter, you can find a friend with similar values and objectives. Together, it'll be much easier to achieve your goals and become successful with new and healthy habits.
And even if you don't have anyone in your social circle who are interested in helping you, there are a lot of accountability forums all over the Internet. You can try sub-reddits such as r/Discipline or r/Selfimprovement, or visit a forum to find an accountability partner.
Step#5: Expect Failures... But Don't Criticize Yourself!
Of course, you shouldn't take the presupposition that you're going to fail straight away. But it will happen, even to the best of us - skipping a gym session, not working the day we have planned to work or just procrastinating.
However, if it happens, you need to know how to approach it, so you're less likely to repeat your failure and make sure it's not a slope-down type of thing.
A very effective strategy is the 2-day rule, which Matt D'Avella popularized. Basically, you make a very serious commitment to never skip a habit twice in a row. Once you slip off, the next day is non-negotiable: you have to perform the habit.
Kindness to yourself will also help. Studies show that even though the natural reaction like being mad at yourself because of not doing the thing you wanted to do might seem reasonable, it's the opposite that works. When you beat yourself up for not doing something, you're less likely to do this in the future. Be kind and gentle to yourself - it is pivotal to form good habits in the long-term.
Step#6: Remove Temptations And Increase Triggers
When speaking of habits, it's often the case that they're triggered by something. It is usually emotions, but it can also be objects. For instance, if you're learning to play the guitar, then it'd be a great idea to put it in a place where you'll see it more often.
If you see the guitar every day when you walk into the room, you'll be more likely to pick it than if you hid it somewhere in your wardrobe. Leave as many cues as you can, that will remind you of your new good habit and remove as many temptations as you can, that keep you from doing it.
If you want to build a positive habits, add in more triggers. You can give yourself post-it notes all over the place to remind yourself of the habits. Simply forgetting your habits is one of the most common obstacles that people can't overcome. Invest in a good habit tracker app and always know what habit is waiting for you.
Step#7: Make It As Satisfying As You Can
Nobody likes doing things that are painful and boring. Make it as satisfying for you as you can, then you'll be more likely to return to it. If you work on something, maybe a cup of coffee would be a good thing to make it more pleasurable. Turning on music or working out with someone also can do the trick. You get the idea! Make it as fun as you can, and you'll stick to your habit like no other.
After reading this article, I truly hope that you will start taking action no matter how hard it will be. As a habit-tracker built for people to start developing new habits, Habitify would love to accompany you on your journey.
If you have more tips on how to form new habits, please comment below and share it with the community!