6 tips on how to create new habits that last
Already failed to keep your new year's resolution? Again?
If you want to make a habit that sticks rather than another failed 'resolution', read on and get prepared.
1. Visualise what this habit will give you. Imagine your life if you commit to your new habit. Write it down, create a vision board - really get clear on what your life will be like with this new habit.
2. Baby steps. Avoid the grand gesture. Small, incremental, (preferably daily) changes create foundations for any new habit. Start small, and build from there.
3. Know thyself. Gretchin Rubin, in her book Better than before, identifies four tendencies when it comes to habit formation which describe how people tend to respond to expectations: outer (a deadline, a 'request' from another) and inner (keep a resolution).
* Questioners question all expectations; they'll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense (respond well when they have evidence).
* Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet self-imposed expectations (respond well to coaching accountability).
* Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations (make habits easily once they've made the commitment).
* Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike (respond well to freedom and variety).
Here’s an online test....
4. Depending on your tendency, get prepared. Questioners - do the research. If you're an obliger - join a group. Rebels - have a menu of things and then choose depending on your mood. And if you're an upholder, set a measurable goal and get started.
5. Schedule and monitor. Unless you're a rebel, schedule in your new habit as if it were a meeting with a client, it will take priority and is non-negotiable. A regular day / time of day is best.
Monitoring can be very rewarding, get yourself a great app or device to help with this.
6. Give it time. When you're doing it automatically without thinking about it, you've got your habit. But know that until you get to that stage you will probably slip up. When this happens the key is to forgive yourself, and to get back to your schedule.
7. Practice, practice, practice... creating a new habit disrupts the status quo of your system (body, mind and soul) and you will try and return to your old habits (particularly when stressed). Creating a new neural pathway, a new thought, belief and behaviour is a lot of work.
I like to use the metaphor of a woodland path - the old behaviour being a well-trodden path – and your new habit is creating a new pathway in a different direction. The new pathway needs to be trodden down over and over to create a new well-trodden route. You will probably veer off the new path back onto the old (it's easier). When you do, forgive yourself and get back on and don't give up - it's normal.
So that's it, my seven top tips to creating habits that actually stick. Enjoy!
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About Sue Belton
Sue Belton works with people who feel unsatisfied with their lives and careers. She helps them get clarity about what will make them truly happy and fulfilled, and then helps them create more meaningful lives. Sue has been working as a life coach for eight years.