There are a lot of philosophies about creating a habit. One of the most popular beliefs surrounding habit formation is the 21-day method: If you do something consistently for 21 days, then it will become a habit. Unfortunately this is not the case, at least when you’re trying to create a pattern that isn’t familiar to you.
Fortunately, there are ways to help make behaviors into habits. While some of these tips might not work for you, I promise that with a bit of flexibility, creativity and dedication, you can change your routine!
- Find inspiration: Make purposeful, conscious efforts to seek out inspiration. This inspiration looks different for everyone. I’d suggest looking back at your life and thinking about moments or situations that triggered inspiration for you. Can you reflect on a time where you were extremely motivated to make a change? Who was with you? What was said? Is there something you can do right now or very soon that mimics these scenarios?
- Recognize that inspiration fades: Inspiration is powerful. It feels good, right? But this feeling is often temporary, and far too many of us don’t act on this moment. If you can learn to recognize that this is a fleeting moment, you bring insight to the moment and can fight through to the next stage.
- Start acquiring some “wins”: Wins are experiences in which you recognize that inspiration can dwindle, and you purposely make a change in your behavior as a result. The more wins you have, the easier it will be for your brain and body to initiate a healthy habit.
- Focus on the reward: Once you recognize where you are at the moment and begin considering what move to take, start thinking about how you’re going to feel once you make a change. Also, think about how you might feel if you don’t make a change. Visualizing positive images of you becoming this new person or having a set of healthy habits is a powerful technique when it comes to behavior modification.
- Say it: Not only should you recognize where you are and where you could be, but you also should start telling yourself that you can do it. Positive affirmations might feel awkward at first, but they truly are a reliable technique to harness lasting change.
- Make a list: Formulate a list of things that tend to get in your way and skills that you have to overcome obstacles. Sometimes we keep valuable information internal; once we put it on paper, the patterns and even solutions will appear.
- Break it up: Often we overthink and stress about forming healthy habits because we look at the entire picture. Instead, try breaking the habit you want to form into smaller steps that are more manageable. Once you get the ball rolling, each step will lead you to bigger achievements and changes.