4 Steps To Create Life-Changing Habits
Forming new and positive habits can be a fantastic way to improve your health and wellbeing, but getting started isn’t always easy.
There are lots of struggles when it comes to forming new habits, and in this article, we’re going to break down 4 simple ways to help you implement and stay consistent with forming new, life-changing habits.
However, let’s start by looking at some of the benefits you get from implementing new life-changing habits.
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Benefits Of Forming New Life-Changing Habits
A new habit can spur us on to improve all aspects of our life. When we achieve success, it gives us that extra motivation and encouragement to achieve more.
Overall, forming new positive habits can create a range of benefits, including:
- Being Healthier
- Feeling Happier
- Being More Productive
- Having Better Relationships
- Having An Enhanced Self-esteem
- Gaining Greater Respect from Others
- Having More Free Time
- Replacing Bad Habits
- And more!
Struggles Forming New Life-Changing Habits
The new year is often a time when people decide to set new goals and start new habits.
Research has shown that depending on where you get your numbers, approximately 81% of people fail at setting new year’s resolutions.
Here are some of the top reasons people fail:
- Lack of commitment
- No tangible plan
- Lack of routine
- No accountability
- Around the wrong people
- Starting too big
- No real purpose
- No one to share the journey with
- And more!
I’m sure you can come up with even more reasons but these are a few of the common ones.
Before we can get started on implementing your new life-changing habit, we first need to identify what that new habit is.
How To Identify the Habit You Want to Adopt
Sometimes we set habits for the wrong reasons and when we do, we are more likely to fail.
Before we set a new habit, we need to understand why we want to implement this habit.
What is the purpose behind this decision?
Do we want to exercise to become a healthier person, or do we want to read books to become more knowledgeable, or do we want to learn a language because we have a trip booked for next year?
Whatever the reason, identifying your purpose will give you the motivation and encouragement to get started and take action.
So before doing anything, understand the purpose of setting this new habit.
4 Ways to Form New Life-Changing Habits
In the book Atomic Habits, the author talks about using four key steps to help you implement and stay consistent with your new habits.
- Make It Obvious
- Make it Attractive
- Make It Easy
- Make It Satisfying
Let’s break these down so that they make more sense.
Make Forming Your New Habit Obvious
Create a plan
Making a habit obvious involves creating a plan.
What is the habit you are going to do, when will you do it and where will you do it?
For example, if your habit is to exercise more, you could say, “I am going to run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 8 am in my local park.”
Make the habit as specific as possible, because if you don’t know what you are doing and when you’re doing it, how do you expect to stick to it?
The author of Atomic Habits also talks about a term called Habit Stacking.
Habit stacking is where you link the habit you want to implement with a habit you already do.
For example, most people brush their teeth every morning (I hope so). To implement the habit of running, you could say, “after I brush my teeth in the morning, I will put my running shoes on and go for my run.”
What habits do you do every day that you could link with your new habit?
Making your habit obvious is one of the essential tools to stick with it.
Changing Your Environment to Make Your Habit Obvious
Another way to make your habit obvious is to change your environment.
Make your environment as appealing as possible to implement the habit you want to achieve.
For example, if you plan to go running on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you can leave your running kit out the night before, so that you’re already prepared for your run.
Having your running kit already out makes it obvious to you that today is a running day.
Apply this principle to whatever habit you’re going to implement. Make it as obvious as possible.
Make Forming Your New Habit Attractive
To encourage you to stay consistent with your habits, making them attractive will help you to implement your new habits.
The more attractive your new habit is, the more likely you’ll stick with it.
Habits can be made attractive using a range of different methods.
The term temptation bundling is when you link the thing you want to do, with the thing you need to.
For example, in the mornings I have been able to make stretching a part of my daily ritual.
I “habit stack” this with reading, and stretch straight after reading my book, but I also use temptation bundling to encourage me to do it.
In the morning I like to watch YouTube while I stretch. I don’t allow myself to watch YouTube unless I stretch while doing so. I am linking the thing I want to do (watch YouTube) with the thing I need to do (Stretch).
This is one example of temptation bundling and I’m sure you can use your imagination to think about the things you can link together to implement your habit.
Whether it’s running and listening to music, or watching your favourite show while on the cross-trainer. Linking the thing you want to do, with the thing you need to do, is one of the ways to make your new habit attractive.
Surround Yourself with Similar People
Habits become much more attractive when people close to us already implement them.
Surrounding yourself with those on the same journey as you can make your new habit much more attractive.
Runners tend to hang out with runners, gym goers tend to hang out with gym goers, smokers tend to hang out with smokers, you get the picture.
Being around positive people can have a direct impact on helping you to implement your new habit. Make your new habit attractive by surrounding yourself with those who can help.
Make Forming Your New Habit Easy
Let’s be honest, starting and implementing a new habit is not usually easy. It can be very challenging, difficult to stick to, and mentally exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be.
Making a habit easy is all about reducing friction before starting your new habit.
If your new habit is to wake up and go to the gym every morning and your gym is a 40-minute drive away, this makes implementing it a lot harder.
Therefore, you need to do everything within your power to make it as easy as possible.
In this example, finding a gym closer to home or on your way to work or the supermarket is one way you can make it easier.
A few years ago, one of the habits I wanted to adopt was waking up early. I struggled for years, continuously pressing snooze on my phone until I implemented a system that made it easier for me to get up.
I bought an Alarm clock and put it on the other side of the bedroom which forced me to get out of bed to turn it off.
This system has helped me stay consistent for over two years now and it’s how I reduce my friction of waking up early.
Other examples include preparing healthy meals in quieter periods, so that you eat healthy after a long day, instead of ordering a takeaway.
Use whatever systems you can to reduce the friction of implementing your new habit and make it easier on yourself.
Make Forming Your New Habit Satisfying
As humans, we often like to be rewarded. When we receive praise or thanks or rewards for doing something it can give us a sense of satisfaction and purpose.
Making your new habits satisfying can be instrumental in helping you to stick with them. Here are a few ways you can make your life-changing habit satisfying.
Technology can be a great motivator when it comes to making your goals satisfying. There are lots of apps that can encourage, support, and reward you for achieving your goals.
My mum is currently learning Spanish on Duolingo and this is acting as a fantastic way of making the learning satisfying.
When she completes daily challenges she gets points, she’s on a leader board and she loves it!
These points satisfy her enough to keep practicing daily because if she doesn’t, she’ll lose her points.
Whatever your goal, there are apps and technology that can help to encourage you along the journey.
If you don’t want to use technology, you can reward yourself for completing your habit.
What are some of the ways you can reward yourself?
Whether it’s a nice cup of tea for reading your book, or buying yourself some new gym clothes every time you stay consistent for a month, reward yourself with something that makes sense to you.
How can you reward yourself to ensure you stick to the habit you want to adopt?
Additional Ways to Form Life-Changing Habits
All of the 4 methods mentioned above are fantastic ways to encourage you to implement new habits, however, there is one additional tip that is necessary to cement everything together.
Accountability is having someone or a group of people who ensure you stick to the habits you want to adopt.
This could be in the form of a coach, mentor, friends, or family.
There are different ways to keep yourself accountable but telling someone else your plans and regularly updating them is a great way to encourage you to stay on track.
The £10 method
This is a method I love to mention as it has been very successful for me.
The concept is simple. If you don’t perform the habit, you said you would, you have to give the person keeping you accountable £10.
Creating a financial consequence will act as a motivator to help achieve what you want to.
If your new habit is to go to the gym Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but you miss Friday, then you have to send £10 to your accountability partner.
If £10 isn’t enough of a motivator, then you can increase this to whatever you feel is necessary for you.
How We Help Companies Support Employees with New Habits
Employees who are more motivated, happier, healthier, and have good habits are of more benefit to any working environment.
A productive member of staff with good habits can help to drive a positive working culture, get work completed on time, and better support colleagues and customers depending on their job role.
For more information, please get in contact.
Tyler Lowe – Health & Wellbeing Speaker
BSc Sport & Exercise Rehabilitation