How to create a new habit

August 06th 2020

You have spent your life creating habits - and your mind doesn't check in to see if they are good or bad. So here is how to create the ones you want to keep!

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Walking, talking, riding a bike, driving a car…..all things we do without thinking because they are habitual.  But how did they become habits?

And the answer is, we did it over and over and over again until it became something we didn’t need to think about anymore.  Think of it like writing a computer programme.  You develop the programme, perfect it and then just let it run.

But there is no end to how many programmes your computer can run.  So whilst we learned many, many programmes before the age of 7 that are still running, there is still infinite capacity to create more.

And this is something that I have been doing recently – doing a few thing consistently until they become the norm.  A bit like I would not leave the house without brushing my teeth, this is what I am aiming for, a series of short tasks that become such a part of the day, it would feel wrong not to do it.

For me, it involves exercise and some form of meditation in the morning.  In the evening two other short activities that mean I go to sleep with a positive mind set.

I have chosen these things because they ‘book-end’ my day – controlling the start and the end of the day so that whatever goes on in the middle they are contained within the positive start and end.

How top performers start their day

We all have different approaches to the morning – I am a definite night owl so never wake up bouncing, however here are the approaches that are recognised to be the regular habits of top performers in many fields of life (and the principles I am building my habits on too):

  • Do not engage with any social media or emails for the 1st hour.  One negative comment on a post, or frustrating email can sit with you for the rest of the day.  So avoid that risk by staying away from it whilst you invest in your day’s foundation
  • Do some form of exercise.  This can be gentle stretching through to a run.  Ideally for 20 minutes, this will release endorphins into your system that will contribute to a positive outlook for the day.  If you can do some exercise outdoors and in nature, all the better
  • Focus on your big why.  This is your mission, the thing you want to be known for when you leave this planet.  If you have no purpose in getting up, then getting up is never going to be easy!  However by giving your attention on your mission you reignite your purpose and this will also stimulate an energy to move that bit closer to achieving it that day.  In kids we call this daydreaming – but often does a child daydream about something that does not make them smile!  Be childlike.  Create your dream.  And then engage with it every day.

..and the secret is consistency

You didn’t learn to walk by trying it twice, or even for two weeks.   You didn’t learn to ride a bike by getting on it only once.  Habits form through doing something consistently.

You may have heard it takes 21 days to form a habit.  I have read suggestions it is more like 45 days.  I can’t promise how long it will take, but there is one thing I am very confident in….one little step taken every day will get you into that habitual behaviour.  One giant leap once a week is less likely to!

....and few people like failing

It is easy to let yourself down but less so to let someone else down so to help you stick to your new regime, make yourself accountable to someone else.

Find someone who is going to be prepared to not let you off the hook!  Someone who will check in with you weekly, daily even and ask if you have practised your new habit – and someone who will give you a hard time if you default.  It often helps if this person is not a friend or family member as they will tend to let you off too easily.  Consider a work colleague who you may be aware is also wanting to make some changes in life – and then hold each other accountable.

And if you really can’t find anyone, contact me and I will do what I can to help.

So what new habit to you want to create, that with consistency will develop a strong programme that runs all by itself!

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