How to Build Better Habits
One of the hardest things to do is create a new habit in our life, or break a bad one. Habits are powerful. They can be hard to change and even when we want them to change, it takes time. In this blog post I hope you will find some ideas on how to build better habits that will help improve your health, happiness and productivity!
What are habits?
Habits form when we do something repeatedly. This creates a mental and physical pathway that can be hard to break. We know this as the 'muscle memory' we create when we do something over and over again, like riding a bike or playing an instrument.
How does it work?
There is always some action (the first link in the chain) which will trigger another action (the second link). These kinds of action happen automatically and we do not need to think about them.
Once a habit is formed, every time the first stimulus occurs it will trigger us into taking that action without thinking twice. If you want to change your habits that first stimulus is where you need to start!
How can I build new healthy habits?
There are many ways in which you can build better habits, as well as breaking bad ones. I have written a list of the key points below:
- Identify your goal and make it SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound).
- Write down your goals in detail. It is much easier to achieve something if you write it down.
- Make sure that what you want to do will fit into your schedule as well as your life. You don't want this habit taking away from other things such as work or family time.
- Be patient with yourself. Do not beat yourself up over failing; learn from these mistakes instead. Also remember there are no quick fixes when it comes to building better habits so keep at it even on days where motivation may be low.
- Celebrate your small successes. This will make you feel great and keep you motivated for the next challenge
How can I break bad habits?
Breaking a habit is not an easy task. It takes time, patience and determination but it can be done if we want to succeed badly enough. Here are some ideas on how to go about breaking those bad habits:
- Identify the triggers that lead up to your negative behaviour (e.g. smoking when bored).
- Once these triggers have been identified then either avoid them or find something else that satisfies this need.
- Create new positive behaviours so it doesn't take as much effort for us to do them instead of our old negative ones (e.g. chewing gum).
- Reward yourself once the good behaviour has become a habit. This will motivate you to keep at it until the positive habits are strong enough that they no longer need any rewards.
- Think of how bad your old habits were for you (physically, mentally and emotionally).
- The more we think about why our negative behaviours or actions are not good for us then the less likely we are to do them again.
Don't give up!
The key to building better habits is understanding what you're working with. That means first identifying your goals and then deciding on the behaviours that will help you get there. Once you've done that, it's time for some celebration! Don't give up if your new positive habits are not sticking. Keep at it and you will be rewarded for doing so.