Have you ever wondered why your New Year’s resolutions lose momentum after just a few days? Are you looking for ways to create new, positive habits that will have a lasting impact on your life? Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that your good intentions become sustainable behaviors. Here are some tips from experts in this field that will help you create habits that stick.
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The Importance of Habits
Did you know that almost half of our behaviors are habitual? Habits operate below the level of conscious thought, allowing us to operate on autopilot and conserve energy. However, habits can also be a hindrance when we try to create new ones because we tend to default to old habits. To create new habits that will stick, consider the following tips.
Behaviour ‘is a function of the individual and their environment.’ To create new habits, you should consider changing your existing environment. Changing your environment by moving, changing jobs, or becoming single or cohabiting can present opportunities to reinvent yourself and your habits. You can also change your existing environment by putting your phone out of reach to avoid mindlessly checking emails and social media.
Mindfulness can help you become more aware of what you’re doing, even when you operate on automatic pilot. For example, eating with your non-dominant hand can force you to eat more slowly and think about what you’re eating, helping you stop when you’re full.
Stacking a small new habit onto an existing one can make it more likely to stick. For example, making a hot drink can give you a minute to take deep breaths or perform squats, and over time, the benefits will accumulate.
Shift Your Focus
If you have a craving for something unhealthy, ask yourself what you’re feeling. Are you tired, bored, or lonely? Instead of resisting the craving, shift your focus onto something else for 15 minutes, such as taking a brisk walk or drinking water.
Make it Easy
Habits need to be easy. Look for small, enjoyable, easy wins. Motivation coupled with your capacity to change and the stimulus to do so are more likely to lead to new habits than motivation alone. Dopamine is a crucial motivator. It kicks in not only when you are enjoying food or drink but in anticipation of a reward. If you can anticipate the good feeling you’ll get when you’ve completed a difficult project or a gym workout, this will help spur you on. Attach a treat to something you consider a chore- by harnessing a need with a want. For example, watching Netflix while on the treadmill.
To make a new habit stick, limit it to just two minutes. For example, read two pages of a book each day. Very small expectations make it more likely that you’ll increase the number of pages quickly.
Focus on Delayed Gratification
Our brains are wired to achieve instant gratification, but focusing on a longer, satisfying goal with corresponding behaviors can be achieved. For example, if you’re saving for a holiday but enjoy eating out, put the savings you make by not eating out into a holiday savings fund.
Track Your Progress
Keep a journal to record your progress, even if your steps seem modest. Small changes to behaviors over time will make a significant difference to your health and well-being.
Creating lasting habits that have a positive impact on your life and career is possible. By following these tips, you can create new behaviors that will stick and help you achieve your goals. Remember to start small, focus on delayed gratification, and track your progress.
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