It’s a New Year, yay! And a great opportunity to make a fresh start. I decided to make my first blog this year about habits, as it is the number one issue that many of the people I work with face. Once I have helped people to create systems in their home that are tailored specifically to them and the people they live with, it is down to them to create and work on new habits in order for the systems to work. But new habits can take time and effort to create and backsliding often happens. I hope that this blog inspires you to make change and create new habits this year!
1: How long does it take to create a new habit?
It takes 21 days to build a habit, doesn’t it? It’s the long-held belief of almost all people. This can vary for each person, their circumstances and each habit. Some habits are tricky to implement, while others are easier. My advice is to focus and commit to one specific habit for a month. By working on one habit at a time, it will be easier than trying to implement several habits at once. Take some time to think about which habit you would like to begin with – brain dumping onto paper can be helpful.
2: How do you create a new habit?
Have you ever heard of habit stacking? The phrase ‘habit stacking’ was coined by Wall Street Journal bestselling author S.J Scott. In his 2014 book ‘Habit Stacking’ he recommends that you “build routines around habits that don’t require effort”. He suggests that one of the best ways to build a new habit, is to determine a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new habit on top of it. For example:
- After making my bed each day, I will meditate for 10 minutes
- Once I have finished eating dinner, I will do the dishes
- After cleaning my teeth, I will floss them
Why does habit stacking work? Your current habits are already built into your brain. Some of them you do without even thinking about it, they have become second nature to you. By stacking your new habit on top of a current habit that is already created in your brain, it will be much more likely that you’ll stick to the new habit. Brainstorm a list of habits you already have and take some time to reflect on these. Then think about where your new habit can be stacked.
3: Be accountable
Have you ever heard of the ‘Hawthorne Effect’? It refers to the fact that people are more likely to follow through with a commitment when they are being observed (read more about it here….) You have probably experienced at least once in your life, that as soon as you talk to a friend about something you are going to give up or implement, you are instantly accountable. For a new habit to form, you need to be reminded constantly as you build that habit. So talk to a friend about your new habit! Let them know about your efforts and goals. Find someone who will challenge, engage and evoke a sense of accomplishment in you.
Building new habits can be tiring at times and it is important to celebrate our achievements, no matter how big or small. When we reward ourselves, it:
- Makes us feel good!
- Boosts our self worth
- Increases self esteem
- Helps us to stay motivated
- Increases our ability to achieve our goals
Take a moment to think about some rewards that will work for you. These can vary from small to big, depending on what you are trying to achieve. They don’t have to cost the earth and is ideal if it is something you really like and enjoy. Examples are: Go for a walk in nature, meet a friend for a coffee, buy yourself some flowers (one of my favourites!) listen to one of your favourite podcasts, read a chapter of your book, go to an art gallery, book a meal out with friends.
So there you have it. What new habit are you going to create today to make 2019 your best year yet?