Humans are creatures of habit by nature, but what habits we develop are primarily up to us. Unfortunately, not all of our habits are healthy or productive. We often stick to a daily routine without considering the consequence. Therefore, the first step to developing good habits is a sense of self awareness. In order to develop good habits, we must be aware of what our habits are. One needs to identify what daily practices are not serving their best interest and change them. We all have bad days, but we need not resort to unhealthy habits to alleviate the stress. Likewise, we cannot let boredom, anger, or anxiety be triggers for bad habits either. Look for healthy ways of dealing with triggers and obstacles.
Behavioral scientists who study habit formation say that many of us try to create healthy habits the wrong way. We make bold resolutions to start exercising or lose weight, without taking the steps needed to set ourselves up for success. The last thing you want to do is try and make a daunting change and fall short in your consistency because of how far it is from your normal. So, pick something more feasible and start there.
Lasting change requires consistency, and so does the development of a good habit as well as breaking a bad habit. Repetition is the key to learning. A habit is not something you do just once. It requires devising a plan of action to take on a daily basis that will help you change or develop habits. Once you’ve done them daily enough times it won’t take as much intention, and you can focus on the next habit you want to implement or break. One study, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, showed that the amount of time it took for the task to become automatic — a habit — ranged from 18 to 254 days. The median time was 66 days!
So as not to allow yourself to be thrown off course, devise a means of accountability over this time of change. Whether that means keeping a journal, logging your efforts on an app or including a friend on your goal is up to you and possibly depends on the habit. Most of us have tried and failed at habit formation at some point or another. As a result, we end up feeling bad about ourselves, believing we don’t have the willpower, self-discipline, or motivation to stick to our goals. It’s important to actively combat this mindset by picking strategies to support you.
The point is, when it comes to changing habits, just start from the beginning and go until you reach the end. Then start again with a new habit. This approach can change your whole life. If there is anything that you don’t like about yourself, understand that it can be changed. If there is one constant in life, it’s change. It’s inevitable. So why not become intentional about it?
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