We’ve all been there – on the long road to breaking bad habits and replacing them with good habits. Forming new habits is challenging, since it disrupts both mind and body’s natural state of equilibrium. While the rational mind is quick to affirm an emphatic YES to the new habit, the emotional brain is not quite as enthusiastic to your new laid plans.
However there are a few key points which are valuable for forming and maintaining new habits. Combined into your daily routine, they simultaneously shape the underlying desire to achieve lasting change.
Have a compelling reason: Avoid starting a new habit with the belief it is the right thing to do. The conscious and emotional brain have different agendas, despite your best intentions. It is advisable to adopt a purposeful intent why you wish to pursue the new habit. Reconnecting with the “why?” will help you connect with your conscious and emotional intentions. Connecting with your original intention to start a new habit is paramount for success.
Break it down: Break down your primary goal into smaller goals. Pursue one habit or goal at a time, until you have become proficient with it. For example if your intention to get fit means undertaking an exercise program, you might start with a series of gentle walks to test the waters. Don’t have ambitious expectations of how your health journey might take shape. Starting slow with the intention to gain momentum may be far more useful in the long run than quitting altogether.
Manage your environment: Remove temptations that are likely to derail your progress. If your new habit is to curb eating unhealthy foods, be sure to have your fridge and pantry stocked with healthy foods. Whilst this may seem trivial, during times of emotional need, the conscious brain becomes irrational leading to the probability of cheating. Therefore keep temptations out of sight where you can. It is important to factor resistance into the equation since you will invariably become unstuck at times. Do not be hard on yourself when/if this occurs. Use the time wisely to regroup and continue pursuing your habit.
Commit to the habit: Small victories achieved early in the habit-forming period add crucial momentum to your habit. Undertaking daily activity for an entire month is a timely approach for forming sound disciplinary behavior. Daily action is paramount for maintaining impetus, rather than intermittent application. Aim for at least a 90%+ strike-rate during the initial month. Resist overthinking or falling victim to your emotions as the going gets tough. Your mind will naturally find excuses to jeopardise your progress. Do not buy into the excuses. Remember why you set out to form the new habit in the first place and keep going!