A habit, be it a good one or a bad one follows the same pattern. A trigger is the first thing that initiates the behaviour, followed by the behaviour itself and then ultimately the resulting reward from carrying out the behaviour.
Habits are usually automatic behaviours Although it has become quite a common place for people to claim that it takes 21 days to form a habit, research actually shows that the length of time it takes varies from person to person and is also very much dependent on the behaviour and circumstances. Some habits might be quite easy to create whilst others might require a lot more effort. To create habits that will last a lifetime try some of the below tactics:-
Anchor The New Habit To An Existing One – To make a habit easier to stick to, try anchoring the new habit to one that is already well established. If for example you want to drink more water and you always have breakfast, it might be easier for you to start off committing to drinking a glass of water before you have breakfast as having breakfast is an already formed habit.
Commit to A Regular Frequency – A habit will be easier to stick to if you commit to doing it within a regular time frame i.e. daily, weekly and easier too if you commit to carrying it out at the same time of day.
Focus On Creating One Habit At A Time – Trying to add a lot of new habits into your routine all at once can feel overwhelming and make it harder to succeed. It is easy to become disheartened if you fail to stick with your new habits straight away but focusing on just one at a time makes success more easily achievable.
Establish Contingency Plans – If you are trying to replace eating biscuits with healthy snacks and know you always reach for the biscuit tin as soon as you get home after work, try a new strategy. Have some healthy snacks available in a more visible place or have a healthy snack before you get home so you are less likely to be tempted by the biscuit tin.
Encourage a Friend/ Partner/ Family Member To Sign Up To Creating The Same Habit – Having somebody else trying to stick to the same habit can help to spur you on and if you’re living together in particular it can help you avoid you being led astray.
Do It Early In The Day – If your new habit is to meditate or exercise, you may find it easier to adhere to if you do it in the morning when your will power is at its highest and you are less likely to have been tempted by alternative offers.
Make It Convenient – Make sure it’s convenient to get to the new gym you’ve decided to join and you don’t choose one that’s going to take you on a hideous lengthy journey that’s not on your way to/ from work/ home.
Make It Enjoyable – If you’re going to eat more healthy dinners, look to find some tasty recipes you’ll enjoy eating and don’t resign yourself to eating bland food.Look around for different exercise classes you might enjoy or hadn’t thought of trying before which you might find more appealing than doing exercise by yourself.
Preparation – Ensure that you have everything you need before you start trying to introduce your new habit. If you are going to go running ensure you have your running shoes and kit – don’t decide to start only to have to give up immediately because you forgot you’d left your trainers on the train 3 months ago and hadn’t replaced them!
Build Up Gradually – If you are aiming to drink eight glasses of water a day for example, try adding just one glass to start with and gradually add more as you become consistent with that.
Make It Personal To You – Try to make a new habit you want to adhere to personal to you. Don’t just try adding the habit because you feel it’s something you should do. Try to really think about why you want it to be one of your habits and what it would mean to you if you stuck to it.
Don’t Give Up – If you don’t succeed in adhering to your new habit after a period of time don’t be tempted to just give up trying. Instead, look at what caused you to trip up. Could you do something different next time to avoid you falling into the same trap? Recognise what the triggers were for you. If you were trying to give up smoking and found yourself relenting when you went to the pub with some friends perhaps you can now see that you are more likely to smoke when you have a drink. Avoiding the pub for a few weeks might therefore help you succeed in giving up and make you feel stronger and more able to deal with that trigger another