One of the questions I frequently get asked is how to transform your habits so that you can make progress in business, relationships, health and life.
What’s really interesting about this question is that we already know the answer to it. How do I know that? Because we’ve done it before. And if we’ve done it before, then that means we can do it again – it’s just that we don’t remember how we did it. This will help you remember how to become a master habit creator anywhere and anytime.
What Is A Habit?
A habit is linked to a routine way that we think or behave which tends to happen unconsciously. Just about anything we do that is repetitive in behavior will eventually become a habit, whether we want it to or not.
Habits are typically either good for us, or bad for us, depending on what impact they have on our mental, physical and emotional health. What many people don’t know about habits is that you can learn to master the ones you want to have, and let go of the ones that no longer serve you.
Why Is It So Hard To Stick To Good Habits?
We all know what it feels like to have all the best intentions in the world to change something about ourselves or our lives, only to have our motivation levels waver to the point where we end up with the same result we started with. Only now we feel even less confident about making changes in our lives.
The reason this happens is that most of us approach making changes in the wrong way. There’s definitely a better way to make long-term change that’s based on science and real-life experiences. So let’s check out how it works.
3 Steps To Changing Or Creating Any Habit
Transforming any limiting or destructive habits into ones that get the results you really want is a process. Just like learning to ride a bike, once you’ve got the gist of it, you can use it anytime you like. Every habit you have be it good or bad, has it’s roots in hundreds if not thousands of micro-decisions and actions made over time.
This means that in most cases they took years to mature into the habits you have today. So it makes sense then that it’s going to take consistent decisions and actions to replace bad habits with good ones.
When you think about it, every part of our life is governed by our habits. Our health and fitness – comes from our habits. Our financial circumstances – comes from our habits. Our happiness or misery – comes from our habits. Our success and failure – comes from our habits.
The real question now is how do we go about changing old habits, or creating new ones that will help us to enjoy a better quality of life? It comes down to following a few simple steps.
STEP 1 – Decide On Your New Habit
This is the easy part – just decide what your new habit is going to be. For example, I started a new habit this year of doing cardio 3 times a week which was noticeably missing in my life as I constantly felt out of breath whenever I exerted myself physically.
As soon as I decided what I wanted my new habit to be, I then had to decide specifically what that would look like. As I was already going to the gym 3 times a week doing weights, I simply added a 4 minute high-intensity cardio exercise immediately before starting my weight training. Now, I hate cardio so this was not an easy habit for me to be motivated towards, or get excited about. Which leads me to the next step.
STEP 2 – Follow Through
While some of the habits you need to change or create may be inspiring for you, the fact is that that will fluctuate depending upon a number of things. The point is, that you won’t always feel like taking action on it so you’re going to need to tap into something else other than passion and that is – start small.
While I still hate cardio, I love feeling fit and healthy so I was willing to start with just 4 minutes, instead of going straight for the 20 minute goal I had set myself. 4 minutes was doable for me from a willingness point of view. As long as you are willing to follow through, then it’s likely to happen. But if your won’t power is stronger than your will power, then good luck.
That’s why I say start with something that is easily doable for you, rather than trying to become an instant over achiever. It doesn’t matter how small you start, it’s just important to get started and get momentum happening. I could just as easily have started with 1 minute of cardio if I’d wanted to but I found 4 minutes to be enough to push me a little, but not feel overloaded.
STEP 3 – Review Your Results
The purpose of reviewing the results of your actions towards creating your new habit is so that you remember to stay focused on it. It’s not to beat yourself if you miss a day, or feel lousy if you reverted back to an old habit.
What you’re looking for is to acknowledge what steps you did take today towards practicing your new habit and give yourself a mental, or even physical pat on the back for taking another step forward. The more you notice even the smallest steps you are taking towards the habit you are creating and feel good about it, the more you are letting your unconscious mind know that making changes in your life is a good thing.
Many people tend to avoid change because at some level they believe that it is more painful to change than to stay where they are. This is an irrational fear that gets carried around inside our unconscious mind and then whenever we are faced with change, we find ourselves getting pulled back to our comfort zone so we don’t have to face our fears.
That’s why it’s so important to take baby steps and ease your way into building new habits. This way, the fear factor and pain avoidance levels stay low so we can slip under the radar and make changes despite what our fears may have to say about it. Then, when you add in congratulating yourself for every step you take, then change becomes something to look forward to.
The last thing to mention is what to do if you find that you are slipping back into bad habits. The best thing to do is to be as specific as you can, which normally means scheduling your new behavior into your everyday activities. Just by making it part of your daily routine with a specified time and action, it makes it very real.
Then, don’t let yourself off the hook. Sure, life happens and things change, but if your new habit is important to you, then you’ll make it a priority instead of making excuses. Making an excuse once is okay – after that, you are being too soft on yourself.
A little bit of accountability goes a long way, as does self-discipline. Even if your new habit is time-consuming, do 1 thing towards it every day, even if it’s not exactly what you want to be doing. For example, if you want to write 5 pages of a novel each day and you are short on time then write a single paragraph, or even just 1 page and leave it at that. Then get back into the routine the next day.
Always remember to set yourself up for long-term success no matter what ventures you undertake. That means always working with what you have and focusing on doing at least 1 thing every day, no matter how big or small, towards creating your new habit.
Changing any habit that no longer serves you will change you life – that is a given. The only question is when are you going to start?