“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
– Will Durant
Aren’t we all struggling to achieve what we want in our daily lives? Waking up early in the morning, exercising, eating healthy, reading, meditating, the list goes on. Every day, we start with a lot of enthusiasm but as the day goes on, the enthusiasm fizzles out and we get back to square one.
Motivation and willpower levels vary with time and situations. The reason behind that is that motivation is like a wave which rises and falls with our mood. Willpower is like a muscle, the more you practice, the stronger it gets. To stay motivated with a high amount of willpower in life, you need to stop some old habits which are bringing you down and start building new habits which will take you to the top.
Now, you might ask, can we actually build new habits? Scientific research says yes, you can build a new habit if you work towards it. Dr.Maxwell Martz, a plastic surgeon from the 50s, was the first one to theorize that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Click here to know more about that. As time has passed, the number of required days has changed. Click here to learn more about the new research.
Now, based on my experience, here’s how you can build new habits. It will seem difficult at the start, but believe me, it gets easier with time.
1. List your desired Habits
The first thing that you need to do is list your desired habits down and prioritize them. You are more likely to stick with the habits that are high on your priority list.
2. Set Goals
You must set clear goals in your mind. This clarity of thought will help you stay more committed and persistent, increasing your chances of success.
3. One Habit at a time
Pick one habit rather than clubbing multiple habits together. Studies have shown that a person working on one habit is more likely to stick to it and succeed than a person working on five new habits at once. Click here to read more about the importance of working on one habit at a time.
4. Start Small
It helps you set realistic and achievable targets. Break your habits into small ones. If you want to start reading regularly, don’t go and pick up Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace and expect to finish it in two days. Start with reading something light for 5 minutes every day. Add 5 minutes to it every week and voila, after 3 months, you’ll be reading for an hour every day.
5. Acknowledge your efforts
Reward yourself for your achievements. It can be something as simple as patting yourself on the back for a job well done. Recognize and appreciate even the minutest of efforts that you make, even reading 5 lines from a book for a minute.
6. Power of Self-Talk
It plays a great role in the formation and sustenance of our habits. Watch what you say to yourself and you will realise that most of the time we just keep putting ourselves down by saying things like I can’t do this, it’s too difficult for me, it’s beyond my scope etc. Avoid doing that. Remind yourself of your goals, why you started working towards them and what they mean to you. Stay positive and driven towards your goal, eliminating any form of negative self-talk on the way.
7. Don’t be disheartened
Staying very committed to your habits is important for their formation. However, life presents unavoidable situations which can throw your habits for a toss. No matter what causes you to miss your habit today, you should be ready to bounce back tomorrow. Don’t take extended breaks from your habits. Successful leaders aren’t in their positions because they never failed at anything, they just got back up faster than everyone else.
So, whether you’ve been aching to give up smoking, trying to start exercising or spending more time with your family regularly, use these seven tips to help yourself achieve all of that and more. Whether it takes 21 days or 210 days, just keep working towards forming those habits. Here’s 2018 filled with healthy habits.
If you have any questions on “How to Form a New Habit” please comment below,
I would be more than happy to help to form a new Habit. – Aparna Pathak