Have you been trying to implement new and healthy lifestyle habits for a while already, but after a few days you just fall back to old patterns? Have you already forgotten which New Year’s resolutions you even made? Don’t worry, you can start a new habit at any day of the year and you can stick to it with our tips on how to develop new habits in 12 steps.
Why is it so hard to stick to New Year’s resolutions?
For many all the Christmas feasts followed by being lethargic and lazy over the holidays result in some kind of guilty feeling. Out of this often New Year’s resolutions are born. Exercise, yoga, eating right, giving up bad habits, the list goes on.
To successfully implement a new habit we need to be willing to plan for the long term. If we renew the promise we made to ourself regularly, then we can preserver on the path to a better life. It is important to generate a sense of self-awareness when our motivation wears off. When we recognize the problem it is much easier to fight our inner demons, because we know that in the end we fill much better if we don’t let them win.
While implementing new, healthier habits of course is a good decision, the problem is, that we often don’t know how to do it. While many people succeed in doing it with pure willpower, others need a more strategic approach to reach their goals.
Introduce One Habit at a Time
Many experts suggest to start by introducing just one new habit, if we want to develop a healthy lifestyle. Like this we can adapt easier to the change and we don’t have to completely change our life from one day to the next.
For example drinking a glass of water in the morning right after getting up is much recommended. After 8 hours of sleep, our body is dehydrated and a glass of water helps a lot to start digestion. Doesn’t sound too difficult, right? But with this little change you are doing already a lot for your body, your energy levels and your health.
It may sound trivial, if we start changing our lives slowly, even though it might take longer, we are more likely to be successful in creating new, long-lasting habits.
If you prefer a more organized, visualized approach Fortunately, there are many habit tracking apps out there. Or, if you are a bit more old-fashioned, you can also print out a habit tracking sheet and keep record manually.
They say that it takes 21 days to create a new habit, but it’s worth putting that time at 30 days until it becomes automatic, especially for more challenging new habits like getting up earlier.
The point of programming new habits is that if we persevere and do it every day, after a while (roughly 30 days) it will no longer be difficult it becomes automatic. Shower with cold water, daily meditation,sun salutations, healthy eating. These are all ideal habits that we can bring into our lives with the right foundation.
12 Steps to Develop New Habits
Follow these 12 steps and you will be successful in implementign any new habit you want to.
1. Commit for at least thirty days
That’s the minimum time for a new habit to become automatic. If you manage to go through the initial difficult phase, it will be much easier to maintain the process. One month is enough time to commit to change.
2. Do it daily
Consistency is critical if you want to automate a habit. If your goal is to exercise more, then exercise daily. Doing it only a few times a week makes it harder to form a habit. Activities done infrequently just on a few days are harder to automatize.
3. Start with something simple
Don’t try to completely change your life in one day. It’s easy to get over-motivated and too enthusiastic. If your goal is to do yoga for two hours a day, then get used to thirty minutes first and increase the time later.
4. Remind yourself
After about two weeks, your motivation and commitment will subside. To prevent this, it is worthwhile to place reminders in form of post-its or just by placing your exercise outfit where you can see it. It will remind you of your commitment to yourself.
5. Stay consistent and create a routine
The more consistent you are with a habit from the beginning, the easier it is to stick to it. It makes it easier to make a routine out of it. If you want to start exercising, try doing it at the same time every day. Setting a phone reminder can help you with your time routine.
6. Replacing bad habits
If you want to get rid of a bad habit, you may want to figure something out to replace them, so you can still satisfy the emotional or physical need that stands behind it. For this you need to apply a bit of sled-awareness and to turn your attention inward.
For example, smoking is related to breathing, which is related to the physical levels of emotion. Stress and lack of love can also cause breathing problems. In this case breathing exercises can replace the bad habit of smoking.
If watching television is the habit we want to leave behind, we can achieve the same relaxation the TV gives us by meditating or reading.
7. Be imperfect
Don’t expect all your attempts to change your habits to succeed immediately. Sometimes it takes more self-determination before we start moving regularly towards healthy habits. Try what you want to incorporate the most into your life, but expect difficulty along the way. The good news is that you can always start over.
8. Use the word “But”
A prominent habit-changing therapist once recommended this great technique for changing bad thought patterns. When negative thoughts begin to obscure the goal, we use the word “but” to interrupt them. “I’m not good at that, but if I work on it, it might be better later.”
9. Remove temptation
Rearrange your surroundings so that there is less temptation in the first thirty days. If this temptation comes from sweets, food, then get rid of sugary snacks and replace them with healthy alternatives, fruits, seeds. You can set up too much time on your phone screen time manager.
10. Spend time with your ideal friends
Spend more time with people who reflect the habits you desire. According to a recent study, having an obese friend indicates that one is more likely to be overweight. If you spend a lot of time with people who regularly work out, then you are more likely to adapt this habit. You become what you spend time with.
11. Think of it as an experiment
It doesn’t help if we are constantly judging ourselves, that’s not the goal. Until one month has passed, think of the new habit as an experiment. Experiments cannot fail, they only have results and we can learn from them. This gives you a different perspective on changing your habit. For example, if we discover that it is always the hardest thing to do on a day to sit on the yoga mat and start the online yoga practice, this is also a result of the experiment.
The power of our imagination has been proven in many way. Everything starts in your mind. Imagine yourself doing your bad habit right now. Then imagine how you rise above the bad habit and implement the substitute, good habit. Finally, end this sequence with a very positive state of imagination.
See how you pick up a cigarette and then the way you put it down and practice yoga or a breathing technique instead. Finally, imagine how you run and breathe freely. Do it a few times until you automatically go through the pattern before executing the old habit and the new habit becomes automatic in our imagination as well. If we have an image of something, then we are capable of doing it.
If we take on a new habit with these points in mind, then we will already be much more grounded and conscious with a higher chance for long-term success.
New Year’s resolutions are often shattered due to inadequate determination and lack of willpower. Forget that there will come a perfect time when we are worth the change. Then next year, then next month, then tomorrow… Just get started with little changes and following our steps and we are sure you will succeed!