What would your life look like if you knew how to successfully form a new habit? Would you start working out every day? Eat healthier? Read more books? Here are some tips to increase your chances of habit-forming success.
Set SMART goals
If you’re not sure how to successfully form a new habit, creating SMART goals is one of the best places to start. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time based. Here are some questions you can ask yourself when it comes to making smart goals:
- Specific – Is your goal clear, or vague?
- Measurable – Will you be able to track your progress? Will you know when you’ve completed your goal?
- Attainable – Is it within your means to accomplish this goal?
- Relevant – In regards to your life or career, does this goal make sense?
- Time based – Can you set a specific timeframe in which your goal should be completed?
Here are some examples:
- Instead of, “Eat healthy”, start with “Eat a healthy breakfast, such as eggs, a smoothie, or oatmeal.”
- Instead of, “Start exercising”, make your goal, “Run 1 mile, 5 days per week.”
- Instead of, “Read more”, start with, “Read for 15 minutes each evening before bed.”
Decide when, where, and how you’ll accomplish the goal
If it takes too much thinking to do your habit, you won’t do it. Make your habit simple, so that it requires no extra mental energy. To do this, set or decide on cues that will aid you in completing your habit for the day.
Let’s say you want to commit to eating a healthy breakfast each morning. You wake up, go for a run, and let the dog out. It’s time for breakfast, so you scour your kitchen cupboards for something healthy to eat. But you’re also running late, and everything that’s healthy seems to take too long, so you quickly shower, get dressed, and opt for a granola bar in the car.
Now, let’s try it again. You get up, complete your morning run, send the dog outside, and head to the kitchen. On the counter is a bowl, spoon, and bag of your favorite, healthy granola. In the fridge are cut strawberries and milk. Does munching on a healthy breakfast seem a little easier now?
Because you prepared ahead of time and created a routine for your morning, the habit is much easier to complete.
Make it fun and rewarding
No matter how much willpower you have, it’s very difficult to form a habit that you just hate. Instead, find a way to make it fun and rewarding. Eventually, your brain will learn to associate pleasure with the habit.
For example, if you dread waking up early but love a good cup of coffee on the porch, use this to encourage your brain. Prepare your coffee the night before so that it’s super easy to make in the morning. Pretty soon, when your alarm clock goes off, you’ll be thinking of how excited you are to watch the sunrise with a hot mug of fresh coffee in your hands.
Use habit stacking
Habit stacking is the act of using a habit that’s already incorporated into your life to trigger a new habit.
Here are some examples of habit stacking from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits:
- “After I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will meditate for one minute.
- After I take off my work shoes, I will immediately change into my workout clothes.
- After I sit down to dinner, I will say one thing I’m grateful for that happened today.
- After I get into bed at night, I will give my partner a kiss.
- After I put on my running shoes, I will text a friend or family member where I am running and how long it will take.”
You can read more about habit stacking and why it works in this article by James Clear.
More productivity tips
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