Complete Guide to Establishing a New Habit
In life, we all face situations and circumstances that force us to think about the choices we have made and re-evaluate our decisions. If you are reading this, you are probably going through a similar situation too.
We all develop habits we would like to change and replace with new ones, habits that can make our lives easier and help us become successful in our everyday life.
So now that we have established this fact, what can we do to change ourselves? Some of us become too overwhelmed even at the thought of change.
In this article, we start with 1) the importance of new habits, and turn to the main question 2) how to establish a new habit. After that we describe 3) how to overcome initial failures and to increase your chances of success when establishing a new habit and 4) success stories.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ESTABLISHING NEW HABITS
Many of us develop certain habits that can have adverse effects on our lives. For instance, some of us have the habit of eating junk food, which can be destructive for their health while others tend to procrastinate until the very end, which goes on to affect their level of success and the quality of their work. This distinguishes successful people from those who are not. People who develop constructive habits and follow them on a daily basis are the ones who gain success in all aspects of their life.
The idea is straightforward. If you want to live a successful and productive life, a life in which you are satisfied and you are able to achieve all your goals, then you must look at your habits. Create the necessary ones and eradicate the ones causing a hindrance in your life. Once you have done this, you will see the impact this creates in your life eventually. You see, the biggest complication between you and success is not always a lack of financing or a lack of qualifications or a failure to reach your potential. Sometimes it has a lot to do with getting started and bringing positive changes in your life.
However, you must realize that it is not easy to create good effective habits. If it were, everyone would just pick a habit they want to develop and just do it. This does not happen because sticking to an action long enough for it to become a habit is not easy. While it might be easy to go to the gym once in a lifetime, it is extremely difficult to do so consistently throughout your life. However, once this initial struggle is over and the habit is established completely, it becomes easier. Ask anyone who has been through this situation and they will tell you the same thing. A lot of will power and reminders are usually involved and most people tend to start over and over again.
HOW TO ESTABLISH NEW HABITS
It takes time to make new habits a part of your psyche. It requires a lot of hard work and willpower. Even though man is a creature of behavior, routines and habits, forming new habits means disengaging that which was engraved in the mind and creating a new perception and thought process.
If you want to establish a new habit, you first need to understand how this can be done, as habits are crucial for an individual’s happiness, health, and progress in life in general.
In order to establish a new habit one must do the following steps.
Step 1: Start Small
Once you have figured out what you want to establish, start small. When most people fail to establish a new habit they usually say that is because they need more motivation or that it is too difficult and stressful. To avoid this, break down the thing you want to learn into smaller, simpler tasks that do not require a lot of effort. For instance if you want to start running for 30 minutes every morning start 2-3 minutes per day. Make the task so easy in the initial stages that you do it without having to force yourself. Think about the minimum amounts of work that you must get done every single day to make the bigger goal a reality. This makes life easier, and your goals achievable.
Step 2. Improve Gradually
Once you have started small, try to improve gradually. Even the slightest improvements add up very fast. As you do this, you will realize that your willpower and motivation will also increase hence making it easier for you to stick to your habit for good. To ensure this you must first break your habit into chunks so that this gradual transition is easier for you.
Step 3. Keep working without slipping from your plan
When you are trying to establish a new habit, chances are that you will fail or slip from you initial plan. Be mentally prepared for this. You need to understand that this is completely normal and you should not lose all hope. This is what most successful people do and what distinguishes them from others. Missing a habit once or twice does not undermine your overall progress and this all or nothing approach should be abandoned. You should not expect to fail but make sure you have a plan for if such a situation occurs.
Step 4. Remain patient and consistent
Like most things in life, patience plays an important role in your progress of learning a new habit. Incredible progress can be made if you stay patient and consistent. New habits can feel easy and practicable. Focus on the benefits of making a change but do not keep fantasizing about the results, rather than that you should focus on the process you need to go through to reach there. You must also keep in mind the reasons for this change and the consequences of not going through it.
Take some time to think of all the things that might cause a hindrance for you and think of ways to prevent them from happening. Ask yourself questions like, what are some of the problems you might face? How can you plan to work around these issues? And, how you can bounce back quickly from them and get back on track? Remember you need to be consistent not perfect.
Step 5. Watch Out For Your Negative Thoughts and Rationalizations
Your mind will come up with the most elaborate and logical excuses so that you do not feel like doing what you should. Learn to see these rationalizations and negative thoughts, and understand that you do not have to believe these. This is just your mind’s way of trying to get you out of discomfort, and you will eventually be fine with this discomfort so you need to stay focused. Do not be fooled by your mind and the comfort of the old habit. Try to give yourself pep talks so that you never lose sight of the importance of this new habit.
Stay determined is important. Remember that the discomfort you feel is a sign for the change you are creating in yourself. You need to keep telling yourself that you are capable of much more than you realize.
While it is human nature to compare oneself to another, when establishing a new habit you should not do so. You need to realize that the same thing does not work for everyone and that everyone is unique in his or her own way. For instance, what helped someone else lose weight in 10 days might take a longer time for you or might not work for you at all. Hence, comparisons are illogical. You should try different things and see what works for you instead of being depressed when you see other people achieve their goals more quickly than you do. Find the solution that fits you, the one you like, the solution that you can work with in the long-term and reap the benefits from.
Plan how you are going to achieve what you want but do not fantasize. Focus on only what needs to be done to reach your goals to ensure that you stay motivated not on what you will do once you have achieved your goal. Once you have made a plan, keep refining it to ensure that it is realistic. Look at your initial plan carefully and think whether what you have written is achievable or not. This needs to be done because a lot of research suggests that people tend to make very optimistic plans. Therefore, to avoid disappointment and discouragement, critically analyze your plans or take the advice of someone who you think can judge it better than you can.
Step 6. Track Your Achievements
Record your progress to see how far you have come. This is important so that you realize how much you have achieved. You can either do this by keeping a notebook where you specifically record how much progress is made each day, or you can ask a friend or relative to help you and keep a check on your progress. It is important to do this daily. When important milestones are reached, reward yourself because you deserve it for all your hard work!
How long does it take to establish a new habit?
Many people are intrigued by the question of how long does it take for a behavior to become a habit? There has been a lot of research on this issue. While the initial research, done by a plastic surgeon from the 1950s Dr. Maxwell Maltz, suggests that, it takes a minimum of twenty-one days to develop new habit. Recent studies found that on average it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes a part of someone’s life. It also depends on the kind of behavior, the person, and the circumstances. People must keep this into mind when they are trying to establish a new habit so that they can plan how they are going to go through this process accordingly, try to stay motivated and set their expectations accordingly. This also gives hope to people who might get demotivated when they are unable to master a behavior instantly. Moreover, it also helps one realizes that you have to embrace the process and be fully committed if you truly want to learn.
OVERCOMING INITIAL FAILURE & INCREASING YOUR CHANCES OF SUCCESS
One can face several problems in the process of establishing a new habit. People who have tried to establish new habits in the past and have failed begin to doubt their ability of embracing a new habit into their lives. This doubt needs to be eliminated before it is engrained in their minds and makes it impossible for them to try something new and bring about a change.
Lack of motivation, procrastination, and self-doubt after failing once are some of the reasons for failing to establish a new habit. It is all about ones mindset. Those who have a growth mindset, think of failure as a roadmap for what they should not do next time.
To overcome failure one must also stay optimistic, always look at the bright side of any given situation, find the lesson in your failures and try repeatedly until finally the goals are achieved.
To avoid failure, you must take care of the following things. Try to change your environment. Relying completely on willpower is unreasonable and does not work in most cases. Try to change your environment in a way that makes it easy for you to carry out your habit. For instance, have lots of healthy food around you if you want to eat healthy. Make it hard for yourself to do the things you do not want to do by being accountable for your actions, ask a friend or family member to help you out so that they can implement consequences for when you do not exercise or do not eat healthy food. Accountability can play a crucial role. If you still fail, make further changes to your environment.
Be mentally prepared for the discomfort of new habits. It is by its nature uncomfortable which is probably why you did not do it before in your life. For instance, most people do not quit alcohol or do not exercise because they too lazy. If you allow yourself the discomfort, it will be easier for you to achieve your target and form almost any habit that you want. Just realize that there is nothing wrong with the discomfort.
You might imagine a happy and successful life because of your new habit but reality is not always the same as fantasy and this must be kept in mind. Due to this, we become discouraged and demotivated. Hence, one must realize this, hold on to their fantasies loosely, and approach changes without high expectations.
By keeping these things in mind and fixing these common mistakes, you can increase the odds of successfully establishing a new habit. You can change your life completely by learning a new habit every month! Just follow the steps outlined above and begin creating new habits right away.
SUCCESS STORIES – People who were open to trying new things and gained success
Many renowned successful entrepreneurs took risks, tried new things and gained success. Remember if they can do it so can you!
The first examples are the founders of Google, Page and Brin. The two were PhD students at Stanford University and the idea of Google was developed when Page suggested of having the option of downloading every piece of information on his computer and then devising a search program for it. The idea was very ambitious and most people would have made fun of him for suggesting such a thing. However, Page and Brin worked for years to develop it and finally gained success and developed Google. They worked day and night, conducted research, met several companies who could fund them but never lost hope and stayed determined until their dream became a reality.
Another inspirational example is Oprah Winfrey. The famous talk show host struggled all her life. She was born in a broken family, was sexually assaulted in her childhood by her cousins and friends, and gave birth to a child when she was only fourteen. She even struggled with obesity for some time but fought it with great courage and lost around 40 pounds. However, she made it through all this due to her positive attitude towards life. She did not let anything stop her from reaching her goals hence became the first Female African American billionaire. Her determination has made her one of the most successful woman in the US and a renowned media personality.
Another good example is Steve Jobs. He was forced to leave his own company and start all over again. However, he did not take this as a setback and saw this new freedom as the opportunity to be creative and soon after he was able to rejoin apple. Thus Jobs went on to succeed even more in the years that followed.
We must all realize that the one thing that can help us change our lives is our ability to take action and do something to achieve our goals and dreams. While it is easier to learn all sorts of things, applying what you learn practically is what matters in the end. One of the biggest challenges one faces when establishing a new habit is trying to get himself motivated and stick with these new habits until they have been completely established in one’s life. This requires having the right mindset and realizing the importance of these actions in the long run.
When you have the motivation and when you have made up your mind about how important something is then you do the right thing even when you no longer feel like doing something that you should do. When you feel the need to postpone something, you will be able to get yourself to do it anyway. When your mind is not convinced about the importance of the new habits you are working on, then it will come up with some of the most logical reasons to put things off. One of the best ways to convince yourself and your mind is to constantly evaluate the importance of the goals you have set for yourself, analyzing how other people who had similar situations remained persistent and gained success, and by coming up with your own strategies to minimize the chances of failure.