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How do you form a new habit? I struggle with being consistent and habitual… unless it’s with something like coffee or chocolate. It can be hard to create self care habits. I tried countless times to adopt a new exercise routine, or drink more water, or go to bed earlier. I would get about five days in and then I quit.
For a time, I wondered if something was wrong with me. Is it my genetic makeup? Do I not have the habit gene? Am I inherently lazy? But habits are actually just about our brain chemicals and how they respond to certain behaviors. If you can reprogram your brain to respond positively to a new behavior, you’ve got yourself a new habit.
Here are 3 simple solutions to reprogram your brain and bring healthier habits into your life:
1. Create Routines for the Rest of Your Day
If your day is hectic and out of sorts, like mine because I have 4 kids, starting a new habit will revolve heavily around scheduling. If I don’t have a set dinner time, cleaning schedule, or designated bath days, everything will feel like a mad dash. Scheduling all my known items helps me see the gaps in my day where I can add in something new.
Keep it simple. A routine doesn’t have to be a completely itemized listing of how you’ll spend your time. I have a rough outline with time blocks so 6am-11am consists of getting the kids to school, chore started, and nap for the baby. 1130am-4pm is the bulk of where I do my work.
Time blocks help me funnel my tasks and choose which blocks can best accommodate certain habits.
For example if I want to start a new workout routine, it’s best to do it in the 1130am-4pm hour when I have the house mostly to myself. If I want to start drinking more water, I’ll incorporate that into the 6am-11am block because that’s when I’m starting breakfast and planning out my day.
2. Set Goals & Track Them
Looking forward to results helps. There is nothing more satisfying that seeing results.
Most habits are about microactions taking us toward a goal. When we’re taking care of ourselves, it’s because we want to feel better. Feeling better looks a way, like a met goal. When you outline exactly what goal you’re trying to reach, you can see which steps are taking you in that direction.
Compete with yourself. When I want to wake up earlier, it’s because I want to be productive. So on the days I wake up earlier, I write down what I got done. Seeing how much I accomplish gives me motivation to continue the next day and try to beat the list.
3. Prepare in Advance
If I’m taking on a new project like painting my living room I like to make a list of what needs to be done, what tools I need, and what order I should work in. I love to prepare for every single thing in life. But I also get caught preparing and not taking action. The balance is important. Taking action too fast means making too many mistakes. Preparing for too long puts us in the habit of procrastinating.
Plan to succeed. Preparing in advance makes following new habits easier. Find out what’s in your way. What’s keeping you from following your new habit? It is time, is it tools, is it coordination with someone else? Whatever the problem, you can find out how to beat it by preparing.
When you fail to plan, that’s a saying for a reason. Plan to follow your habit by lining up what you need to get it done.
How to Create a New Habit and Stick to it
You can create new habits whenever you want. It takes an agreement to work with your current mindset, but once you figure that out, you’ll be able adjust your routine whenever you want.
Habits don’t have to be daunting situations that you’re stuck in our out of. Understanding how your brain processes reward systems, knowing your own motivations, and finding the weak spots in your behaviors let’s you choose how to work in new behaviors and habits.
In 3 steps, you can begin to replace bad habits and build new ones. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Create a daily routine
2. Set goals & track them
3. Prepare in advance
Getting what you want is all about getting to know yourself better and working with what you discover.