Creating Good Habits

A habit can be defined as a repetitive motion that over time and with the use of contextual cues (similar environments or actions), reduces the requirements for conscious attention or motivation.

This can vary to the way you get in the car or to the routine you have before getting into bed. Most are done mindlessly and can take someone else pointing them out to notice we do them.

The issue with forming new habits is that we tend to rely on motivation and attention to ensure our new practice is adhered too. We lack the consistency and commitment – instead of working through times when they get hard, or we feel as though we cannot see any changes, we give up.

In a study completed in 2012 found that when we write down the new habits or goals we would like to regularly achieve, there was a higher success rate or completion. So get out the good old paper and pen and start writing.

How do we go about creating new, long-standing and productive habits that can keep us productive, even at our worst?
Studies have shown that the length of time it takes to create a new habit is approximately 66 days of consistent action. So just get through the first month and you’re almost halfway there.

So how do we actually go about creating this new and Exciting habit?

  1. What is it that you would like to achieve? Is it something you want to have completed daily, weekly or even multiple times a day?
    This needs to be realistic and something you know you can achieve without completely changing your life. There is no reason to set yourself up for failure.
    Fail to prepare, is preparing to fail
  2. What small action can be taken to contribute to having your task completed regularly?
    • As and example – If your new habit is to go for a walk every morning after breakfast, get your shoes out the night before to increase the chance of getting it completed. Make this process enjoyable and fun. You’re kicking goals, be proud of yourself.
  3. Be specific with how you can measure or ensure the task is completed. This is an opportunity to choose the preferred place of completion on the regular basis.
    • A habit is started by using contextual cues i.e the environment or place of repetition. Your brain will start to learn very quickly what is coming next if it is not required to assess the environment every time you decide to complete this action.
  4. Be consistent – make sure it is completed in the same place, at similar times for 66 days. Start the countdown 😉
  5. The most important, take time to reflect.
    • Be proud of how far you have come and that you have taken the first steps in your new adventure. Recognise the small wins and the little things that help you achieve..

Once the habit is formed, there is time for us to give ourselves the freedom to incorporate it fully into our lives and routines. Your habit, that you have now created is not going to become unlearned from missing one day, just try not to make it a habit of not completing it.

See what I did there 😉

Now go out there and start achieving your goals, one day at a time.

Citation:

Gardner, B., Lally, P., & Wardle, J. (2012). Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice. The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 62(605), 664–666. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp12X659466

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