The new year brings with it the promise of a great start! It’s not always goals that are our focus, it can be habits. According to Charles Duhigg, habits are the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives. It’s where we set ourselves up for success in making small, daily patterns that lead to our final goals. However, it’s all what holds us back. Too many times we fail to get our habit to stick and we don’t have the success we want. Your new year goals may include habits that have to do with weight loss and healthy habits or organizing and better productivity. Here’s a few ways that help our habits stick this new year.
Plan your work and work your plan.
It’s that famous saying, a “dream is without a plan is just a wish.” Not only do you need to make a plan, you must write it down. By working through the steps, you can see where your success starts and failure is not an option. It’s in the details that you will find that most success in planning your work. Your plan also includes the words you tell yourself about your new habit. Positive self talk trains your brain to think and act on your new habit. Your brain will believe what you tell it! Plan your work down to the details to be sure you know when and where you will do this new habit.
Start with a micro habit
What’s the smallest first step you can take to create a habit? It’s a micro habit. Break your habit into the tiniest first step and get started with that piece to set your habit into consistent motion. Getting to the gym requires getting the clothes for the gym, or your sneakers for your walk. Eating healthy means making a list of healthy food options. Start your organizing with a daily declutter of 5 items or setting up a box for where decluttered items go. Get the smallest step done and then add the next step.
Connect the dots
The best habits occur in succession. One dot leads to the next. Start with an existing habit that naturally connects to a new habit. If you want to take your vitamins each night, leave them by the toothbrush where you brush your teeth each evening. It’s easier to go to the gym if it’s on the way from your work to home. It’s called hooking a habit See where you can connect the dots.
Rewards of new habits
It’s an age old way to create a new habit, however it could work for you. What reward will you give yourself for a certain number of successes with your new habit? What is enough of a reward? How will you measure your success to get that reward? There’s an app for this too!
Are you inspired by blogs, podcasts or books? Here’s a few references to learn more about habits. There’s always one small life hack that can make learning one new habit easier. These experts on habits can give you insight into what to do next, how to be successful and why habits matter.
Research shows the more choices we have, the harder it is to stick to our plan and create a new habit. If we have too many options, we lose track of our original habit we are creating. Start with your new “rule” for your habit. That rule should be unwavering. It’s a rule like, don’t order french fries with your meal or drink water with every meal. The more you practice the one choice you give yourself, the easier it is to create that habit.
What obstacles are in the way with creating a habit? Is it a time issue, a money issue or another issue? When you assess the obstacle you can break through what’s holding you back.
Design your space
Creating a space the encourages your success helps make habits stick. How so? Set up your space to flow from one habit to the next. If you want to take your medicine at bedtime, place it by your toothbrush. Have a water bottle always handy to be sure you drink 8 glasses a day. Your running shoes and clothes should be packed and ready to go each day to be sure you get there. All these small space designs can help you stay true to your habits.
Get your cue
Charles Duhigg’s strategy relies on a “Habit Loop” that includes a cue for your habit, the routine of the habit and a reward for your habit. Your cue can be an alarm or a post it note. Your reward can be just about anything from meeting a friend for coffee to soaking in a bubble bath. Using this strategy works from the basic reward premise of us as humans.
This topic has been on my mind a lot! Here’s more ways to make your habits stick.