• 4 minute read •
I’m not going to start this by saying how long it takes to create a habit. Studies have shown that this is very subjective depending on you, the habit that you’re trying to build, and many other factors. What I would like you to know is that anyone, regardless of age or condition, can create a new habit; and that consistently doing something can lead to great things! Or to really bad ones.
Just like the famous quote reads: we are what we repeatedly do. So if you want to change or start anything in life, begin by thinking about your habits. Everything we do recurrently is a habit, from waking up at certain time, to eating, exercising, painting, watching TV, smoking, etc. Once we get used to doing something, like it or not, it becomes a habit, and what we do makes us who we are! therefore, we are our habits.
As humans we are adaptable, even to bad conditions. You can get used to that job you hate, or a bad relationship. And there are lots of things you wish could be different, so why not to take action and change them? It won’t happen overnight but there are simple steps you can take to get there, and start being who you’d like to be.
So, here’s a little summary of what I learnt from the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Which I highly recommend if you’re interested in the science behind habits. To me, understanding how the brain works in this regard was so interesting and powerful!
It is a cycle: CUE → ROUTINE → REWARD
The CUE: what triggers the behavior; the ROUTINE: the actual behaviour, what we do; the REWARD: the pleasure from the behavior – what we crave that makes us coming back to the behaviour over and over. In order to create a new habit, it is important to keep this cycle in mind and follow these steps:
First, start small.
Don’t promise yourself the impossible. Don’t try to do anything like being vegetarian from tomorrow! Or start being active by going to the gym 6 days a week! Give yourself time to adapt to a new, achievable goal, one step at a time. If you’d like to eat less meat, start with 1 or 2 days a week, but do it consistently! Set up a reminder, or post a note on your fridge, mark it in your calendar. Do something that allows you to stay on track with this goal.
Second, find your motivation and the trigger.
Why do you want to do this? What inspired you to contemplate changing your habits or to start doing something. This is very important, because it is what will remind you why you’re doing what you’re doing every time you doubt yourself. Now, if what you’re trying to do is to quit a bad habit, think about what makes you do that – If you smoke, is it because you’re anxious, bored, or nervous? This will help you with the process of doing something else instead, when you have those same feelings.
Third, reward yourself.
Really think about what you will get for doing that new thing, or changing a bad habit over time. It can be a weekly reward, or a little something every time you accomplish a step forward towards your goal. And this is key! Because as science explains, your brain will start getting the feeling of satisfaction even before you do these things, once they have become habits. This is how you keep them going over time – but remember, it won’t happen overnight.
I hope you find this helpful. If you need support on getting into a new habit, I can help! Reach out to me and we can start an action plan together, today.