Happy New You – Create Positive Habits

One of the keys to reaching a new goal is to have positive habits in place that support that goal. If your current habits are counter-productive, you’ll need to change them or run the risk of coming up short.

How do habits help you reach your goals?

Suppose you have the goal of running a marathon: if you don’t already have the habit of running regularly, you’re unlikely to be successful until you can adopt that habit. Running regularly can help you attain your goal in several ways, including getting you in great physical shape and strengthening your endurance.

Developing supportive habits can be easier than you think and far more powerful than you can imagine!

Happy New You - Part 4

Identify the Habits You Need

Before you create new, positive habits, you’ll want to figure out which habits will help you attain your goals. For every goal, there are habits that can practically guarantee success.

Reflect on your goals and what actions you can take to help bring them about.

Consider these attributes for the habits you want to implement:

  1. Look for daily habits. Habits you practice each day are much easier to put into place and keep than those that are less frequent.
  2. Keep it simple. The more complex the task, the less likely you are to stick with it. If you really do need to implement a complex habit, start with a simpler version and then add more complexity later.
  3. Be specific. It’s not enough to just specify what you’re going to do; include the how, when, and where as well. Time is always critical when creating a new habit. Be sure to specify a precise period of time in which you wish to implement the new actions.
  • So “I’m going to exercise 1 hour per day” is inadequate. “I’m going to swim from 6-7 am, Monday through Friday at the YMCA” is more like it. This has enough detail to be quite clear about what you want to accomplish and includes the how, when and where.

Important Things To Remember When Changing A Habit

Habits take time to develop.

It’s common to read that a new habit takes 30 days to become ingrained. It actually depends on the person and the habit! Studies have shown that it can take as long as 7 months to develop a habit. Be patient.

Willpower isn’t what it seems.

You might admire the willpower of someone that works out every single day. But it doesn’t require any willpower to hit the gym if you have the habit of working out.

  • Willpower is great for developing new habits. However, it’s insufficient for consistently taking an action you don’t enjoy. Use your willpower for habit development.
  • Willpower is limited. If you find that you’re struggling too much, more willpower isn’t the answer. The solution is to reduce the demand on your willpower.

Focus on the habit of getting started.

If you want to go for a walk each day, the first step might be to put on your walking shoes. Let that action be your focus.

Have a trigger.

Think about the habits you already have. You wash your hands after using the bathroom. You turn on the evening news after putting the kids to bed. A preceding action or event triggers most habits.

  • An effective trigger happens on a regular basis. Using the restroom, starting your car, going to bed, and eating a meal can all be effective triggers. Find something that happens every day and makes sense for the habit you’re seeking to develop.

Start small.

If you want to write a novel, creating a habit of writing 1,000 words per day might be too much. Set a goal to write for at least five minutes after putting the kids to bed. Is five minutes too much? Then set a goal of writing a single word! Interestingly, if you write a single word, you’ll probably end up doing much more.

  • A very small goal might not seem to accomplish much, but you’re creating the habit of getting started with the activity. When you’re consistently taking that small step, you can begin increasing the demands you make upon yourself.

Reward yourself.

It seems silly to reward yourself for writing one word, doing one pushup, or saying “hi” to a stranger. However, it’s a wonderful start. Reward yourself for even the smallest accomplishment! Tell yourself that you’re doing a great job or do a little dance. Whatever feels good to you is a viable option.

  • Ensure that your reward is intelligent. Giving yourself a cookie for taking a long walk might be counter-productive!

Work on ONE new habit at a time.

Starting a diet, sticking to a new exercise routine, learning French, and beginning a meditation practice is too much all at once. You’ll end up right where you started. Wait until you’ve shown some success with one habit before introducing another. Define success as performing the new habit at least 90% of the time that the trigger occurs.

A 90% success rate is excellent. The difference in results between 90% and 100% is quite minimal. Interestingly, a 70% success rate provides little in the way of results. Strive for at least 90%. Try following a diet 70% of the time and notice the results!

Anyone could look in your home and accurately determine your housekeeping habits. One glance at your body reveals your eating and exercise habits. Your habits are evident for all to see. Create new habits and your life will change.

Prepare for Interference

There are usually obstacles to creating new habits and behavioral patterns. Try to figure out these possibilities ahead of time so you can eliminate them as soon as possible.

For example, if you’ve decided that you’re going to eat a healthy breakfast every day, get rid of all the breakfast junk food in your pantry and freezer. That junk food is an obstacle to successfully implementing your habit.

The obstacle might be time interference. Maybe your partner doesn’t usually leave you alone for 30 minutes every night so you can meditate, write, read, or whatever it is you want to do towards your goal. Simply let them know ahead of time that you need be undisturbed during this time.

Look for More Supporting Habits

When you determine supporting habits that will help you reach your goal, consider going even deeper into the details to find habits that will help you accomplish your other new habits.

For example, if one of your new habits is to make it to the gym every morning by 6:00 am, you can develop several supporting habits to help you establish this habit, such as:

  • Get out of bed by 5:15 am.
  • In order to get up at 5:15 am each day, you might need an additional habit of always being in bed by 10:00 pm.
  • Another supporting habit might be to pack your gym bag the night before.

These supporting habits are monumentally important. Take time to think about what additional habits you can develop to support your efforts.

Enjoy Automatic Success

Once an action becomes a habit, you’ll do it automatically, without having to make the decision to do it each time. In other words, you’ll automatically move forward, day after day, toward achieving your goal until you reach it.

Just as counter-productive habits can keep you from success, supportive habits can practically guarantee your victory. So consider the habits that will best support your goals, put them into action on a daily basis, and enjoy your new success!

PS Don´t miss out on Part 5 of this series where I share concrete steps you can take to deal with the inevitable discomfort that comes along with creating lasting positive change…

About the Author Jan Marie Mueller

Jan Marie Mueller is founder of the inspirational blog ThinkBrilliantly and The Brilliance Community, a free Facebook group dedicated to empowering women to let their inner brilliance shine! Her mission is to help women everywhere shift the way they think about themselves, their world and those around them so they have the confidence to do, be and have what they want most in life!

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