Who you are now is a result of your habits. Everything you do and how you do it is ultimately the result of a habit. Most of our habits are automated – we do them because we’ve always done them, and never really stopped to question them, right? The food we eat, the places we like to hang out at or even the people we spend most of our time with, comes down to one thing, and that’s habit. Now, don’t get me wrong, habits are great! In fact, habits are an essential part of living a rich life because they bring order and structure into our days. And if we build the right habits into our life and do them long enough, we start to see amazing changes happen. But what do you do if some of the habits you’ve built into your life, consciously or unconsciously, don’t serve you anymore? What if the food you’ve been eating has made you fat, or the people you’ve been hanging out with have discouraged you from pursuing your dreams? What then?
If you know deep down in your heart that it’s time to kick the habits that no longer serve you and replace them with new empowering habits, then you’ve come to the right place. Whatever your habit may be, the proven strategies I share with you below will not only get you going with your habit, but will keep you on track too, to ensure that these new ways become your default setting, in living a life of authentic happiness and success.
Step #1: Decide and Commit
This is probably the most important step that will determine whether your new habit will be successful or not. You must make a firm decision and commitment to see your new habit through, regardless of the obstacles you may face along the way. Start thinking about what it is you want and who you are prepared to become, to master it. A new habit will demand more of you. It will stretch you and propel you into becoming a bigger person. It will expect that you wipe away your excuses and shatter your old beliefs in order to make space for the awesome new.
Step #2: Take the easiest first step
Ever heard the saying “Make it so easy it’s hard to say no.” You may wonder how you will possibly master a habit if it’s too easy to do. And that is exactly why you must make it easy to start off with – so that it gets done. When you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves. Make your first step easy and make it as convenient as possible. Then act on it! Action breeds momentum and momentum breeds success.
Step #3: Build a strong foundation
The mastery of your new habit will largely depend on the foundation that it’s being built on. Your foundation is made up of the things you do every day that give you more self-command and control. They are the habits you already have that help you perform at optimum level. For example, eating nourishing meals, daily exercise, a certain amount of sleep every night or down-time. What habits make up your strong foundation?
Step #4: Schedule your actions
Scheduling your actions into your daily plan will increase the chances that they get done. There is power in seeing something you have written down on a schedule. Take the time to decide when you will do your new habit around any other plans you may have for the day. A powerful technique that myself and many others have used when starting a new habit is known as “habit stacking”. You may actually be doing it already without even knowing it. The quickest way to build a new habit into your life is to stack it on top of a current habit. Because your current habit is strongly wired into your brain, you can add a new habit into this fast and efficient network of neurons more quickly than if you tried to build a new path from scratch.
How I used habit stacking to express more gratitude…
When I made the decision to start using a gratitude journal just earlier this year, I stacked this very new and exciting habit on top of one of my existing habits, which was going to bed every night. Before going to bed I would write down 3 things I was grateful for that day. It was hard NOT to do because firstly, I knew without a doubt that I would go to bed every night, and secondly, I made it as convenient as possible by leaving my gratitude journal and a pen on my bedside.
The results: Astounding!!! To this day, there has never been a day where I have not remembered to write in my journal. And if for some reason I was not able to do it, I would get back on track the very next day. This is now a habit that I live by.
Step #5: Check it off
Keep track of your new habit and check it off every time you successfully complete it. You can check it off on your daily schedule or on a separate checklist you can create for yourself. This will enable you to assess your progress along the way. For instance, you may start your habit off poorly, missing out many days at a time, but as the weeks progress, you find yourself doing better and better. Now, you wouldn’t know that unless you had regularly monitored your progress and checked it off, right? It won’t give your brain, which is naturally conditioned to remind you of everything that’s gone wrong, a chance to make you feel upset. You have built the references and that’s all that matters.
Step #6: Celebrate each step
Every time you succeed at doing your new habit, celebrate! Get into the habit of celebrating each action you take, each win, each step closer. Recognize your effort and acknowledge yourself for it. Have a list of rewards for every time you do your new habit. Rewards such as spending time with your pet, listening to a soulful piece of music or taking a hike will fill you up and help you plug into your power source. This charge will support you in maintaining your new habit. You can reward yourself daily, weekly or at the end of each month. It’s entirely up to you.
Remember: You are building a new neural pathway into your brain. You need to give your brain a lot of positive reinforcement for this to be a success.
– Saajidah Esat
Contributing Writer | Health & Happiness Enthusiast
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