How do you develop a new habit?
Everyone knows how difficult it is to stick to resolutions that will get you to your dream goal. What helps you to achieve it is to develop the right habits.
What is a habit and why is it so important?
Every person during his or her life gains experience and develops ways of reacting, which over time turn into habits that may come from different sources, such as imitation of the people around.
Regardless of their origin, habits are very important in a person’s life because they contribute to life’s successes and failures. In the modern world, the most desirable habits are those that sustain motivation in the pursuit of success.
10 steps to forming a habit
1. Concrete resolution
For a habit to be accepted by the brain, it must be specific, e.g. I will do 30 tummies every morning.
The second important step is proper motivation – why and for whom the habit is being formed. The right motivation and reward is the goal for the brain.
3. Trigger and clue
One habit formed can become a trigger for another, which is why many people have, for example, morning rituals that consist of multiple activities.
In the first days and weeks it is useful to “support” the habit formation with external signals by, for example, a reminder on the phone.
For the brain to acquire the habit faster, it should have the prospect of a reward, which does not have to be material. For the brain, a reward is a boost to one’s self-esteem or the awareness of doing something important for oneself and loved ones.
When developing new habits, things don’t always go well. Therefore, it is worth using the greatest possible punishment for the brain – the feeling of shame. Be sure to ask loved ones for support to ask how the habit changes are progressing.
7. A companion on the way
Holding yourself accountable for results is a very good motivator. That’s why it’s important to have the support of your surroundings and a companion with whom changing habits is simpler, e.g. by motivating you in your daily exercise.
8. Setting a specific date
It is a good idea to set a specific date when the changes will start. Avoid statements which postpone the start of changes, e.g. “in spring”, “from the new year”.
9. The most important first step
Most of the time, a habit starts to weigh you down after just a few days, so it’s important to change your mindset, e.g. instead of thinking about exercise, focus on rolling out your mat.
10. A necessary plan of action when problems arise
When you’re having a worse day and it’s harder to follow through on your resolution to change, it’s a good idea to have a plan of action ready to motivate you.
7 mistakes to make when making habits
- Introducing too many habits at once – it’s a good idea to introduce habits one at a time.
- Failure to measure progress ─ progress towards a goal should, for example, be written down in a journal.
- Rejecting the thought that something can go wrong.
- Lack of precision of place and time.
- Lack of precision in time and place ─ If someone has managed to develop positive habits, it is worth asking how he/she did it, not wandering around in the dark.
- Lack of motivation – write down on a piece of paper the goal you are going to achieve with your new habits and hang it in a visible place.
- Lack of reward – develop a weekly or monthly reward system for reaching your goal.
How long does it take to form a habit?
According to psychological theories, to form a habit, you need continuous and regular repetition of a certain activity until a new neurological connection is formed in the brain – this is necessary for the habit to be performed as an automatic activity.
Over the past several years, various theories have been developed to determine the necessary time for habit formation, the most popular being:
The 21-day theory– created by plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz, who concluded, based on observations of his patients after surgery, that it only takes 21 days for patients to become accustomed to change;
The 30 Day Theory – created by blogger Steve Pavlin who, based on his own experience, concluded that it only takes 30 days to form new habits;
The66-day theory – created by British researchers from University College, who based on their research averaged the time it takes to form new habits.
It is difficult to say how long it takes to develop new habits – it’s a very individual thing. There are factors that influence this process, and these are:
- positive changes brought about by the habit,
- willingness to go beyond one’s comfort zone,
- attractiveness of the new habit.
Main photo: Tegan Mierle/unsplash.com