Tips for Changing Habits
Tips for Changing Habits
If you’ve read the blog post on New Year, New Thinking you’ll know that change starts with self-acceptance and reframing what you want to achieve. The blog on Habits Worth Adopting is a good place to start if you want some ideas on which habits will give you good returns on the changes you make. In this post we’ll look at how to go about adopting new habits. Habit formation is the process by which a behaviour becomes progressively more automatic through repetition. Here are some tips for creating new habits:
Become aware of your habits
A habit is a behaviour that you have repeated enough times for it to become automatic. The process of behaviour change always starts with awareness. You need to be aware of your habits before you can change them. Identify your good and your bad habits. Write down the positive things that you do each day or each week. These might be small things like brushing your teeth twice a day or always eating breakfast. Then write down your bad habits like checking your phone before going to bed or staying up too late.
Think process rather than goals
You may have some goals in mind that you’d like to achieve such as weight loss or getting fitter. Instead of focussing on these focus on your systems instead. Systems are the processes that lead to the results you’d like to see. These might include walking to work or cycling to the shops, cooking from scratch or ordering a veg box.
Who do you want to be?
Another way to think of it is to decide what kind of person you want to be rather than the specific things that you want to achieve.
Small actions build up
Small changes may appear to make little difference until you cross a critical threshold. However, breakthrough moments are often the result of many small actions sustained over a long period of time. Focus on fostering good daily habits, however small they may seem.
One way to build a new habit is to identify a habit that you already have and to stack your new behaviour on top. So if you regularly have hot drinks throughout the day decide to do a few minutes of physical activity while the kettle is boiling.
Think process and trajectory rather than goal
It’s your current trajectory rather than your current situation that’s important. Look to where you are heading rather than where you are right now. Outcomes lag behind your current behaviour, but they are where you will end up if you continue on the same trajectory. Be patient and commit to the process.
Work with your natural abilities
To maximise your chances of success choose habits that align with your natural abilities rather than trying to swim against the tide. That said, don’t make it too easy; we experience peak motivation when working on tasks that take us to the limit of our current abilities. Once a habit has become routine it may become less interesting. Keep reflecting and reviewing your progress. Reach for the high windows.
Be aware of environmental triggers
Our environment often shapes our behaviour meaning habit cues are bound up with time and location. So you might want to link a new habit to a time of day and place. Make the cues obvious in your environment. Avoid situations that trigger habits you want to give up. Instead create an environment that makes your new habits easy. For example, eating a healthy diet is easier if you have a well stocked fridge while slippages are likely if you have a stash of biscuits in the cupboard.
Choose Who You Hang Out With
We are influenced by the habits of three groups: Close family and friends, the wider community in which we live, and the powerful or those with status. Choose to be with people who already do the things you are wanting to do or who personify how you’d like to be.
Track your progress
Tracking your habits by making a note on your calendar or checking in with an accountability partner can be good motivators for change.
See Atomic Habits by James Clear for my information