When you want to change the way your days go, a change in habits is generally what’s needed to accomplish real change. Habits are helpful in that they relieve a lot of the decision fatigue that can happen when you’re trying to develop a new way of doing things. When something is a habit, it basically gets done on autopilot. It doesn’t take a lot of mental effort and is automatic. For instance, I’m in the habit of starting my day with stretching and strength exercises. I get up, use the bathroom, and immediately start stretching on my living room floor. It’s just what I do and it makes me feel good throughout the rest of my day. However, this habit took some time to cultivate and develop. It did take conscious effort in the beginning to build it into my morning routine. But, once it became habit, I no longer had to think about it.
Here are 5 tips to help you cultivate and develop new habits that will serve you and make your life better.
1. Find Your Why
This first step is critical to any new habit formation. Why do you want to have this new habit? How will it help improve your life? Continuing with my example: I wanted to start the habit of stretching and strengthening each morning to stay flexible and able to move as I age. When I start my morning with stretching and strengthening I feel stronger and more limber. I feel ready to take on the day and stretching just feels good. As I go through the routine I feel in tune with my body and that’s important to me. It helps me love my body more by being in tune this way.
So, figure out your why and make sure you continue to ask yourself “why?” until you’ve formed at least a paragraph’s worth of reasoning behind your new habit.
2. Change Your Surroundings, Not Yourself
We all kind of are who we are. It’s less difficult to change your surroundings than yourself. If you know that you are inclined to do something that actively negates the new habit you’re trying to form, remove the obstacle or distraction. For creating my stretching and strengthening, I needed to remove my distractions. For me, those are screens. I knew that if the remote was easy to grab and put a show on, I would do that first thing and stretching and strengthening would go out the window. I wanted to help myself do my new habit, so I planned for it. The night before, I would put the remote in a spot that required me to take 1 extra step to get it out by opening a pouch. This was enough to help me go straight into stretching. It didn’t require an extra step. I just needed to walk into my living room and do it. This is another reason I choose to do stretching and strengthening. It doesn’t require a machine or equipment other than me and my body. The more effortless you can make your new habit, the better. Set yourself up for success. Know your obstacles and remove them.
3. Make Your Habit Hard Not to Follow
This goes along with point 2. When you make it more difficult to not follow your habit than to just do it, you set yourself up to win. The easier something is to accomplish, the more likely you are to accomplish it. This was hiding the remotes for me. I also had rules set in place for myself like I can’t have coffee until I have done my stretching.
4. Give Yourself Some Grace
When starting a new habit, there are going to be days where you don’t do it. The rebel in you wants to skip it here and there and send you off doing something else. That’s OK. You’re human and I’m officially giving you permission to slip up. You don’t even have to feel guilty about slipping up. Just strive to get back on track. Many people get frustrated with themselves and when they slip up, they decide they just can’t form this habit so they might as well not even try. New habit formation takes time and you’re going to slip up. It’s just what happens when you’re human. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you less than. It just makes you like everyone else. So, give yourself some grace, and just get back on track.
5. Reward Yourself and Celebrate Tiny Wins
Give yourself a reward for sticking with a habit. For instance, after 14 days of sticking with my new stretching habit, I rewarded myself with a fancier cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts. My daily reward is my coffee at home, but bi-weekly I get to buy one. It works for me. What’s going to work for you?
Much love and productive vibes,
Momma Caped Nerd ❤
Do you have questions or suggestions for Momma Caped Nerd? Did this post inspire or help you in any way? Let me know by leaving a comment below or by visiting my Contact page. I’d love to hear from you!