5 Things that You Want to be Doing to get a New Habit going
Habits are the building blocks of our lives. They dictate our lifestyle.
There is a quote from James Clear that says: “We don’t rise to meet our goals we fall to the level of our systems”. These systems are our habits.
Habits are the steps, lifts, elevators and moving platforms that get us to where we want to go.
You can probably think of several habits that you already have in place that make you the kind of person that you are. There might be a few that you do on this list too:
- Clean your teeth twice a day
- Read your Bible regularly
- Practice cooking new dishes once a month
- Study a subject each week
- Play an instrument regularly
- Go to the gym a few times a week
- Walk daily
- Put money into a piggy bank each day
- Set aside money for your children/Godchildren each month
- Speak with friends and family regularly
- Write birthdays onto a calendar or into your diary each month
- Put your clothes away at night
It can be hard to start a new habit with just motivation and willpower alone. When we rely on these things and our own strength it’s no wonder that we struggle to keep new behaviours up until they become habits. We need to make it as easy as possible in other ways.
Here are 5 things that you can do to increase the likelihood of your habits sticking and becoming part of you and your identity:
Armour of God
As well as willpower and motivation we have God’s power! Do you believe that the new habit that you want to create is in line with what God has for you? If so include Him in your plans and your preparation, pray for him to give you strength and to show you ways of making this habit easier for you to establish.
Make things as smooth as possible to do so that your willpower and motivation will have less of a workout. What could trigger your memory to do the new habit? What could make the new habit easier? Leaving your Bible visible? Setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier? Placing fruit on the middle shelf in the fridge? Preparing your lunch the night before? Arranging to walk with a friend? Keeping your trainers by the door?
Make your environment work for you and you won’t need as much mental and physical energy to get going and keep going.
Make them small
The important thing is to get started and get your brain used to starting to perform this new habit. So initially even if that’s just the first stage of the action that’s great. Perhaps the first goal is just to put on your trainers and walk out the door and think about what you’re going to do after that.
If you walk or run, great.
But if you just go to the end of the drive and turn around and come inside you have already started to rewire your brain and make the next time you do the behaviour easier.
‘Quantity makes a good story, but Consistency changes your story’
If you climb a mountain or run a marathon that is a brilliant story and something to be proud of! BUT doing that one big thing does not change your habits and therefore your lifestyle and identity.
It’s the consistency of your new habit that matters. Perhaps you just need to start with doing the behaviour once a week and then once that is established increase it to twice. This also reduces the mental barrier and means that you come away from the ‘all or nothing approach’ which can be detrimental when starting new habits.
Some habits award us instantly (cleaning your teeth, having a shower, stretching after exercise, making your bed etc.) but others take a while before there are any tangible ‘results’.
This can be disheartening and cause you to give up the routine too easily. So what are the other ways in which you can reward yourself until the habit brings its own reward?
- Perhaps you can put a £1 in a jar every time you don’t buy sweets at the petrol station.
- Perhaps you can walk whilst you listen to a podcast that you won’t allow yourself to listen to at any other time?
- Perhaps you can use some of the money saved making your own lunch to buy a coffee at the end of the week?
Try putting some of these things into practice when establishing your new habits and you will find that your lifestyle changes more effectively and that you don’t need to rely on your motivation and willpower as much.