Updated: Jan 13
Habits are my JAM!! Especially when it comes to healthy-er habits or habits that are getting you one step closer to being your version of healthy. A habit is a routine of behavior that’s repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. In other words, habits are your mind's way of automating behaviors and freeing up energy and space so you can focus that energy and space on other things.
Regardless of what habits you are trying to build, if you don't have the right tools in your toolbox it can be an uphill battle. And let's face it, life is hard enough right now, and you don't need any more hard things. This is why I'm so glad to be writing you this post - to help you create a healthy-er habit that will serve you. In order to make something a habit, you need to build repetition or do the thing you want to make a habit again and again and again until one day it becomes automatic.
What can you do to ensure you get your new habit's reps in? Here are 4 strategies that can help:
1. Make the habit OBVIOUS.
When trying to build a new habit, you need to make it obvious. It's common to operate in an "out of sight, out of mind" mode. By making your habit visually obvious, you are putting that habit front and center so there's no way to forget about it. For example, if you want to start running in the morning, you could make it obvious by setting out your running clothes, shoes, and accessories right outside of your bathroom. When you get up in the morning and finish using the bathroom, your running things are right there reminding you that it's time to lace up.
A second strategy is to habit stack or build your new habit on top of an existing habit. For example, if you want to remember to take your supplements in the morning, you can place them and an empty glass right next to your coffee cup or coffee maker. When you get your coffee, you fill the glass with water and take your supplements.
2. Make the habit EASY.
If you don't make your habit easy, you're not going to do it. It's that simple. Let's go back to the running habit we are trying to build. Running is hard and it's especially hard if you are running first thing in the morning when it's could be cold and/or dark. So set yourself up for success by starting small - make the initial habit to get up early and put all of your gear on. That's it, nothing more. Once you have mastered that step of the habit, add in another small piece, like going outside and walking for 10 minutes. Slowly build yourself up until you have gotten to the point of running.
You could also automate the process. So if you are trying to make a habit of drinking more water throughout the day, download a water app or set a series of alarms on your phone that will remind you to drink water every hour to hour and a half.
3. Make the habit ATTRACTIVE.
Habits need to be attractive or provide you with a sense of wanting to do the thing. If you actually want to do the habit, it makes it easier to do it. One strategy you could use is to pair the habit (something you NEED to do) with something you WANT to do. For example, if you want to listen to a podcast, make a rule for yourself that the only time you listen to podcasts is while you are running outside or on the treadmill.
Another strategy is to do something you enjoy immediately before the habit you are trying to build. For example, if you enjoy reading a book, you could do this before you go for your run. The end goal here is with time and repetition, the joy you feel reading your book will also be felt when you run. Think of it as extending your joy.
4. Make the habit SATISFYING.
Let's face it, habits that provide some sense of instant gratification are the habits we all want in our life. Unfortunately, those habits are generally ones that don't serve us (smoking, social media scrolling, binge-watching TV). But we can create a sense of instant gratification with the habits that serve us by creating opportunities to make it satisfying. One example is through habit tracking. We all love to cross things off our list or check a box once something is complete. Once you complete your habit of running or drinking 8oz of water each hour, cross it off your list!
Or you could create a reward system. This can be organized in various different ways, but the key here is to reward the behavior you are trying to repeat with something that is in-line with said behavior. Take running for example. For each mile you run, you can set aside $1 to purchase new running shoes or a new running watch.
Talking about habits makes me giddy - I just love them! I love the process of creating them both for myself and alongside my clients. I'm also in love with finding new ways to break the habits that don't serve me. In either case, it's hard work. But it's work that is worth investing in because your habits are a direct reflection of who you are...so don't be cheap, easy, or fake.
Comment below with a habit you are loving right now!
Source: Atomic Habits by James Clear