This year I’m going to XYZ.
I’ll start on Monday.
But it’s his/her/my dog’s birthday.
I know I’m guilty of saying at least one of the above phrases a gazillion times in the past.
Ring a bell for you as well? Thought as much.
If you want different results in your life, you need to take a good look at the actions you take daily. because they are what eventually determine if you’ll get your desired result, reach that goal, realize that dream – or not.
All the little things we do on a daily basis make up our results.
Have a look at your life as it is now.
The results you have in your life today is an exact reflection of your habits in the past.
Creating new habits doesn’t have to be as hard as people make it out to be.
In fact, I’ve got 5 practical tips that will definitely come in handy as you go after your new amazing habit.
What is a Habit?
A habit is a specific behavior or pattern you’ve adapted to over time – a repetitive action you take every single day on auto-pilot.
Most of the time our habits will go unnoticed because we are so used to doing them, we don’t even realize when we do them.
A habit is something you’ve done repeatedly and have grown into.
Your habits become apart of you, whether you like or not. #ToughLove
Examples of habits:
- The time you wake up and go to bed
- Whether you floss or not
- Whether you tie your left or right foot first
- Your diet (your eating habits)
- Whether you swing by the gym on your way to work or not
- And so on – you catch my drift.
A habit is made up of a recurring habit loop (see image below) and it works a little something like this:
A cue or a trigger prompts you to take a specific action (or inaction) and with that, you experience a reward or a benefit.
This reward will cause you to want to repeat this action because it was just so darn good – basically.
For all the visual learners out there, I’ve created a simple diagram of this concept – the habit loop.
An example of a habit loop in action:
You can see how your habits directly impact the way you feel (the experiencing of the reward) and therefore the results you’ll eventually have in your life.
We always act on emotions and our actions determine our results.
Your Mind & Your Habits
Your mind is crazy about habits because it just loves to repeat the past and do whatever feels easy.
Our brains don’t like to be introduced to new action patterns (i.e habits) because it won’t know how to respond or do something it has never done before.
This is why breaking a bad habit and forming a new one can seem so difficult.
Ever had a New Year’s resolution not work out? This is why.
We set too many and we don’t give our brain enough time to adapt to the new behavior.
As a cause of this, your brain will generate too much resistance between you and your new habit.
In other words, our brains aren’t so smart when it comes to habits.
While we may know that waking up early will benefit us, however, if your brain isn’t used to waking up early, she’ll hit the snooze button for you.
Your brain can’t tell the difference between a supportive habit that’ll help you get your dream result and a bad habit that doesn’t serve you.
All it cares about is repetitiveness and familiar patterns.
So, when you set out to create new patterns (habits), we need to trick your brain a little – at least in the beginning.
How To Create New Habits That Stick: 5 Simple Steps
It’s time to trick your brain.
These are my favorite tips for creating a new habit that will actually stick.
1. Pick One
Start by listing all the habits you’d like to adopt or quit this year.
From this list, choose one habit to start with.
Not five and not three – but one.
Remember, we’ve got to make it as easy for your brain as humanly possible and so starting out with five new habits at a time will be too much for your brain to handle.
Pick one amazing new habit that you’d like to adopt.
For example: Wake up early to work on your passion project.
Pin this article for later.
2. Plan For Resistance
The key is to plan for resistance.
Plan for the fact that your brain will likely freak out and not want to do what you’ve set out to do.
If you plan ahead you can come up with ways to distract yourself and deal with this resistance.
Be sure to always keep your why with you.
Remember why you wanted to implement this habit in the first place, and like your reason for doing so.
This way, when your brain is acting out, you’ll have your why handy in your back pocket and this will help you to keep going.
Don’t stop now, dreamer.
3. Allow Urges
When creating a new habit you’ll likely experience an urge not to repeat your new habit because it has not yet become natural to you (your brain).
- If you’ve been wanting to quit sugar, an urge to eat sugar will pop up because your brain expects you to eat sugar.
- If you want to wake up early to work on your goals, an urge to snooze will pop up because your brain expects you to do what you always do – snooze.
Allowing these urges to come at you but not acting on them is key.
Notice the urge, greet it but don’t act on it.
This might feel hard in the beginning (as with everything) but once you become aware of the urge and really start to pay attention to it, something will start to shift.
Awareness is the start of change.
Allowing urges gets easier with time and it has certainly helped me kick my bad habit of snoozing.
4. Make It Attractive
This is one of the how-to-kick-a-bad-habit-to-the-curb tips that habit expert, James Clear talks about in his popular book, Atomic Habits.
Sidenote: If you haven’t yet read it, I highly recommend you do.
If you make your new habit attractive, you’re much more likely to repeat it and eventually make it stick.
- New habit: Wake up early to work on a passion project
- Attractive: Brew a delicious cup of coffee
- Attractive: Light a few candles to up the coziness
- Attractive: Put on your favorite music
Try and increase the attractiveness factor of your new amazing habit and make it as fun (and cozy) as you possibly can.
5. Make It Super-Duper Easy
For a habit to really stick we need to make it as easy as we can and reduce the amount of friction between you (your brain) and your new habit.
- New habit: Wake up early to work on a passion project
- Easy: Put your phone on the other side of the room so snoozing isn’t an option
- Easy: Do it right before or after a habit you genuinely enjoy, like sipping a beautiful cup of coffee
- Easy: Prep and organize the kitchen table so feels welcoming at 5 AM in the morning
- Easy: Plan for your morning routine the night prior
Set up your surroundings to support your new habit and make it as simple as you can.
How Long Does It Take To Form A New Habit?
There’s a buzz going around stating that it takes 21 days to bust an old habit and to create a new one.
I believe the time it takes for you to form a new habit is totally subjective to the fact of just how difficult your new habit is and how much friction there is.
It might take you a week to successfully implement the new habit or it might take you several months.
A quote on quote simple habit like waking up 10 minutes earlier every day might take you a few days compared to another habit like quitting sugar – that might take you longer.
There’s no magic number.
All there is, is your own efforts lined up with persistence.
Just keep going, act in spite of your brain playing tricks on you and stick with it.
Your mind will eventually catch up and turn on the autopilot button for your new habit 🙂
Before You Go
There you have it. 5 simple tips to help you stick to your new habit.
I hope you got some value out of this article on how to create new habits.
You’ve got this, dreamer – you’re already well on your way since you found your way to this article! ✨