Aristotle has rightly said –
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
The question arises – “How can we make changes in our habits to change our life?” In our life, there are many activities which we want to accomplish or make it a habit. We fail to do that. For example – going to the gym. We keep on making excuses. At last, we complain about failing at developing a habit. Once you gain the understanding of how we form habits, you can change whatever area of life you want.
Let us first gain an understanding of how do we develop habits.
Our brain subconsciously learns that which particular behavior is one to keep. We are unconscious about our habits. There are simple three stages we follow while developing a habit:
The trigger can be any small action. Mid-afternoon yawn will be a sign of your need for an energetic pick-me-up. You don’t control the triggers consciously. Triggers are not dependent on your mood. When you want to change certain habits to change your life, use the smallest triggers. These triggers happen daily, all the time.
2. The routine behavior
We will continue the example. With a yawn, the thought of having coffee comes automatically to your mind. Once you are aware of the automatic behavior, you have the power to choose whether you want to modify this behavior or not.
3. The reward
You will leave the office to drink coffee. The rewards come in form of – you feeling relaxed, your legs will have a chance to stretch. You will talk to the coffee owner and make a little joke. These are the simple three steps we go through to develop any habit. You can make conscious changes in these steps and form habits.
We will discuss how to make something a habit over the long term. Follow the steps given below to make changes in your life:
1. Get clarity of the changes you want to make
All you have to do is goal setting. Decide the changes you want to make and prioritize the changes. Be ready for some discomfort in doing something different than your routine. Don’t get trapped in the series of excuses.
Acknowledge those excuses. Your mind will give you benefits list as well. Write them down in one paper. Let’s say you want to start meditation regularly. You can give your mind benefits like – “My mind will be peaceful.” “I will be calm under stress.” The more benefits you will identify, the faster you will be able to change your habits.
“Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.
– Jim Rohn
2. Make sure the changes you choose are yours
For someone, any eating plan worked extremely well it does not mean that eating plan will work the same for you. Stop yourself to follow the masses and other people’s agenda. Be with yourself and identify which changes you want to experience in your life.
It is proved in research that when you develop your own goals, you are likely to follow through on achieving them. It is your life so choose your own adventure.
3. Increase your habit in small ways
Don’t get your high hopes that from the beginning you will do something amazing. Start small and improve yourself gradually. Gradually, your willpower and motivation will increase. See the new habit as fun, not the punishment. Don’t develop many habits at once.
Choose one habit first and become good at mastering it. Your initial task is to become master at change process. Once you are comfortable with it, developing a new habit will be easier for you.
4. Break habits into chunks
When you continue improving habit 1% each day, you will find yourself improving quickly within 2 or 3 months. You can break your habits into chunks. Are you thinking about building up to 20 minutes of meditation? Start with 10 minutes first.
Are you trying to do 50 pushups per day? You can start with 10 every day and increasing it gradually. Our brain struggles to adopt big changes even if we know they are good for us. Work on one minor change for one week and implement another change after one week.
5. Start with the easy one
Everyday life gives you surprises. Some situations are not in your control. You have to give your time and efforts to immediate tasks. What you can do is start small. Choose that change on which you have full control.
Take an example of meditation. In the early morning time, there will not be anyone to disturb you. You can do meditation during that time. The simple point is – start making small changes in your habits which are controllable by you. Changing life is not a tough task. Take a small step at a time and change your habits.
6. Strengthen your new habit and be patient
Increase your focus and attention to a new habit. Talk about it with your family, friends, and work colleagues. You will make incredible progress if you are consistent and patient. When you cannot keep up with the new habit, observe the issues arising. Modify your routines accordingly.
When you are failing at keeping up the new habit, ask yourself following questions:
- What will prevent your habit from happening?
- What are some things that are likely to get in your way?
- How can you plan to work around these issues?
Find solutions and start focusing on your new habit. Always remember –
“The magic of great life changes comes from tiny habit changes.”
7. Reward yourself for implementing new behavior
Celebrate every small changes and accomplishment. That happy feeling will help you to stick to the new habit. When you are developing a new habit, observe yourself. How do you feel about yourself when doing something new? Pay attention to that feeling.
Your brain will gradually start to like the new habit. You will start feeling better about yourself on a regular basis. After a long time, when you will look back, the new habit won’t seem that tough.
You can start following above-mentioned steps to make changes in your habits. This will ultimately lead you to change your life. One common questions we all have in mind – How long does it take to form a habit?
Some people say 21 days and some says 66 days. The real answer is – it depends. It depends on the habit you are creating. It’s possible that you might develop a new habit in 15 days or you will need more than 21 days.
Right environment, right actions, and right rewards – will ultimately lead you to build a new habit faster. Developing new habits require determination, patience, and constant efforts. You can develop a new habit successfully as long as you don’t give up.