We all have things we would like to improve about ourselves or for ourselves. And indeed, dear reader, we should always be open to the idea. No matter our age, there is likely something we could do to make our lives better. Whether it be having a cleaner, more organized space. Perhaps we want to make it a point to practice self-care? Or a change that will benefit our health and longevity. The question is how do we make a change? The answer is simple, we create new habits.
Why is it important to create habits?
The unfortunate truth is that some things that are good for us we see as chores. If we view them as chores, we are likely to put them off, or not do them at all. A habit is something that is done automatically. I, for one, would rather do something good for myself automatically, than grudgingly. Routines take willpower out of the equation.
Follow-through may not be as easy as we would wish. Through the years I have come up with a few keys that help me form–and stick to–new habits.
How Long Does it Take to Form a Habit?
There is a long-held belief that it takes only 21 days to build a new habit. This has since been (somewhat) disproven. Newer information now says it’s closer to 66 days. But do not let that discourage you. If you follow the steps I’ve laid out, you’ll start small and snowball your results. You’ll get there in no time.
Know Your Why
First, you need to know what habit you want to create. Is it that you want to incorporate greens into your diet every day? Maybe you want to walk a mile every day. Perhaps you want to make your bed as soon as you get up. No matter the goal, you need to know why you’re doing it, why it’s important to you. You need to have a clear picture of the results.
Now is the time to be specific. Think about how you will feel when the habit you want to create is part of your established routine. Use sensory details. Close your eyes and picture it.
Let’s use the example of the simple act of making your bed as soon as you get up. Close your eyes and picture how that will feel. Image a smell associate with it. Perhaps one of freshly laundered sheets. Picture the light streaming in through the windows and falling on your perfectly arranged pillows. Imagine how happy and accomplished you’ll feel when you start your day out this way.
Whenever you feel your willpower waning go back to this feeling. Picture it as if it’s already accomplished.
Write it Down
One simple yet powerful way to help create your habit is to write it down.
You could write it down on beautiful stationery, my preferred method, or you could make a note on your phone. Choose whichever method works best for you. Just do it, dear reader.
I also recommend tracking your habits. There are many habit trackers out there. Pretty ones you can print right from your computer. There are even apps. Or you can simply use a calendar with little golden star stickers like you got in elementary school.
There’s nothing better than seeing a representation of your progress. You’ll want to keep the streak alive.
Choose a Timeline
We’ve already established that it takes longer than 21 days to truly form a habit. But I believe it works best to start even smaller. I like to start with 10 days.
You can commit to anything for 10 days.
In your mind, if you’ve committed to 10 days, there is an end in sight. When your self-control is on shaky ground, just remind yourself, it’s only for 10 days. You can do it. Then, after you’ve seen what you can accomplish in 10 days, push yourself further. See what more you can do. The snowball effect will surprise you.
While I personally like to write things down on paper, reminders tend to work better electronically. Simply set a reminder on your phone to go off at the appropriate time each day. Until that habit is established, it’s easy to forget. A reminder will keep it top of mind in the hustle and bustle of life.
Commit with a Friend
We’re more likely to stick to something if we’re doing it with a friend. We might, at times, be okay with letting ourselves down. We are less likely to be okay with letting a friend down. This may not work with every new habit we are trying to form (I doubt we need to recruit a friend to help us stick to making our bed every day). But for many habits, it’s very helpful!
Give Yourself Grace
You will likely have slipups, dear reader, and that is okay. The thing to remember is that you’re doing your best. You’re making an effort and that counts for so much. When you realize you’re missing the golden star for that day, worry not, tomorrow is a new day.
This ties into “Knowing Your Why.” It’s important to understand the benefits of what you are trying to accomplish. If you do the research, you’ll understand more fully what it will do for you. This, in turn, will help you imagine your new life with your habit firmly in place.
I hope that you will give these steps a try, darling. I’d love to hear what habit you would like to form! Please let me know in the comments.
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