What is a habit? What do you think of when you hear the word habit? If you’re like most people, you hear the word habit and associate something negative with it. Smoking, overeating, and always being late are all negative habits.
However, habits can and do show up as positive, if you know how to train yourself toward this goal. A habit doesn’t have to have negative associations. Many people, in addition to thinking habits are bad, also think new habits are painful. This does not have to be true either, I fact they can be downright fun.
Once you see how habits are beneficial to you and how they will change your life for the better, you will live a fuller, more productive life.
In this article…
The Idea of Habits
Before you begin thinking about habits, it’s important to look at your perception regarding habits. It all starts with your mindset.
We all put habits into two categories: good or bad. A bad habit is one which needs to be changed or completely deleted from our lives. A good habit is something we want to have or choose to create for ourselves.
Once you begin to resonate with the idea that habits can help you be successful, then you can begin to change them for the better. When you begin to think about habits, start thinking of them as a new creation rather than just another thing “you need to do.”
When we think of something as need or should or have to, we automatically fight against ourselves. Habits are patterns of behavior and are neither good nor bad. They just are.
Ending the Habits You No Longer Want
Before taking on the creation of new habits, it’s important to take a look at some of your old habits. Without judging them as either good or bad, simply take a step back and see which ones aren’t working for you anymore.
More importantly, which ones are not working for your life? Do you stay up too late and can’t get up in the morning? For many people, this one rings true. Are you late just about everywhere you go? If so, you are most certainly not alone.
Being late all the time is simply a habit, and one which you can change over time. Rather than focus on not being late, focus on being on time. It sounds odd, but it’s a shift in perception that takes the focus off the negative and puts it in the positive realm. Our brains do not actively process negatives so when you focus on “not being late”, your brain actually focuses on “being late.” And don’t you know it, when you are focusing on that (even if it is not what you want), you tend to show up late.
When your mind attaches to a positive outcome, it can then create success and momentum. If you need to create the new habit of being on time, start with ending the old habit – which could be staying up too late (which then makes you late in the morning.) Begin going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night, and do that until it becomes a new habit. When you get the proper amount of sleep, you can then focus on the new creation of being on time.
Look at each situation and see what you are doing that is contributing to not getting to places on time. Are you not leaving enough time for traffic? Are you not putting together what you need beforehand so you are rushing around last minute and then you are not on time? Time is a big habit that many people work on because it impacts your life in so many different ways.
Creating New Habits
Once you have identified the old habit as being one that doesn’t work, you can then go on to create a new habit from that point. Identify the old habit, clear it out and then move forward to the creation of a new habit.
In the example of being on time, set a goal to be on time and give it a specific and measurable amount of time. For example, write down on a to-do list that you will be on time for three appointments this week.
Take it one step further, and make a declaration to someone that you will be on time for three appointments this week. Keep going. Ask someone to hold you accountable for this new habit. When you put it down on paper, it appears as something you will do and accomplish now, instead of something you will do “someday.”
Once you declare it, you are making a commitment to yourself and are holding yourself accountable to keep your word. Having someone check in with you is a great way to help you keep your commitments.
The Reward System
In order for a new habit to stick, you could try on the reward system. At the end of every day, celebrate your wins. Were you on time for your appointments today? Well, if so, give yourself a pat on the back. You should also proudly announce to your accountability partner your new success. Once you start getting these “feel good” feelings, you to create another positive habit in another area of your life.
In addition, why not treat yourself to a reward in some small manner? You don’t have to go out and buy a new car or anything extravagant, but you can treat yourself to something nice. When you reward yourself for a job well done, your brain quickly learns that achieving goals means gets rewards and not achieving them is not as much fun. It will want to gravitate toward the fun stuff instead. Success breeds more success. Mini successes everyday create more opportunities to achieve in more areas of your life.
Why are Habits Important?
Habits are important because they set the tone and pace for a successful or messy life. When you have messy habits, you have a messy life. It’s really this simple. Habits are important because they dictate your success.
If you consistently show up late as a habit, everyone will associate you with being unable to keep your word. This may result into other people thinking twice about connecting with you or looking elsewhere for their business needs. How will that impact your bottom line?
Do you see how your habits create your life? If you don’t take charge of your habits, your habits will dictate the outcome of your life. This is why habits are so important.
How to Develop New Habits
When it comes to your exterior world, habits are vital. However, did you know habits are equally, if not more so, vital to your inner health and well-being? What do habits have to do with health and well-being? The answer is everything.
Your health and well-being rely on you, your choices and decisions. If you have habits which don’t promote and provide for a healthy lifestyle, you’ll have an unhealthy life. Plain and simple as that.
Stop the Excuses
Why do we eat poorly or not exercise or (fill in the blank)? We often say that it is because we don’t have time. Not having time is an excuse. Time is simply a reflection of a decision of where you choose to put your energy and effort. If you choose to sit on he couch or engage in mindless activities or eat mindlessly, at least take responsibility for that choice. AND then decide what you want to do differently. What choices do you need instead to make in order to create a healthy thriving lifestyle?
It’s all a matter of creating choices that support what you want instead of excuses of why you can’t have it.
Declare What You Want
When you begin to see how you have the power to create new habits and end old ones which don’t work, you take back your power over unproductive habits. Begin declaring to other people what your intentions are surrounding new habits. You will begin to notice an immediate shift.
Once you begin to declare new habits you are creating, they begin to manifest their way into your life. For example, if you begin to declare you will create a new habit of meditating, you will begin to get into conversations with those who are interested in meditation.
They will either never have tried meditating, and may want to join you, or may know of a great meditation they watch and use. Once you begin to declare your new habit, it takes on a life of its own. Try it and see what happens, I double dare you.
No matter what your goal is, begin declaring it and watch how it gains momentum and life.
Track for Success
Begin to measure your new habit in small increments. Start with 10 minutes. Everyone who focuses on it can find 10 extra minutes in their day.
When you break it down into manageable chunks, it works much better. Sometimes the tendency is to try to make HUGE sweeping changes and this can feel hard and overwhelming. This is the fastest way to watch yourself fall off the cliff. Feeling frustrated is not fun and remember this is all about creating habits for your success, not your failure. Slow and steady sets you up much better for success.
Be specific about what you are going to do and then check it off, give yourself a star, write it in your journal. Just find a way to measure and give yourself credit for achieving what you said you were going to do. Remember, that pat on the back. Oh, yeah! You want to celebrate every day.
How to Stay Motivated
And what about when you miss a day? Well, most studies say that you need to be consistent for at least 21 days to make it stick. So, check in and figure out what happened. Was this a conflict that you did not expect? Sometimes, life gets in the way of our routines. And we need the ability to shift strategies. One way to stay within your plans is to have a flexible routine. Create the primary routine – the one you do day in and day out, and then create a Plan B for those days when you have a conflict, weather is not cooperating or for whatever other reason Decide ahead of time what you are going to do.
Which habits should you look at when it comes to your success and well-being?
Well, there are many, but I have created a short list of the 12 daily habits that will help you live a thriving life with ease.