Updated: Jul 6, 2021
How many times have you heard that it takes just a few weeks to develop a new habit? The truth is a bit more complicated than that, but there are scientific ways to help you lock in the changes you want to make.
The myth about behavior becoming automatic in 21 days started when journalists misinterpreted a popular self-help book on Psycho-Cybernetics back in the 1960s. You may probably eat more vegetables starting today, but complex tasks like playing the violin are going to take more than a month to gel.
On the other hand, now is an ideal time to begin forming constructive habits that will enhance your happiness and wellbeing. Take a look at these strategies for learning new behaviors.
Basic Strategies for Habit Formation
Try these tips for easing into your new routines as quickly as possible:
Plan ahead. Eliminate excuses by plotting out your course in advance. If you want to wake up an hour earlier, go to bed on time, and dream about the invigorating yoga class and delicious breakfast that await you in the morning.
Be consistent. Regularity reinforces itself because as you repeat a new habit over and over it is establishing a new neuro-pathway and soon it will be integrated into your normal routines. While simple new habits may take hold quickly, more difficult ones will take longer to be integrated.
Spot triggers. Kicking a habit requires you to notice what happens right before you bite your nails or buy another pair of shoes. Are you bored at work or arguing with your spouse?
Develop substitutions. Once you know your cues, you can choose a different response. Take a walk or invite a friend out for coffee.
Review your reasons. Go over the reasons why you want to adopt your new behavior. Remind yourself about how drinking water instead of soda will help you slim down, strengthen your bones, and save money.
Personalize your goals. While you’re contemplating your reasons, visualize your future self. Focus on what you have to gain instead of just pleasing others.
Advanced Strategies for Habit Formation
What if you’re tackling something as ambitious as managing diabetes or transforming
your dead-end dating history?
These ideas will give you an extra boost:
Practice compassion. You’re bound to slip up occasionally. Forgive yourself, and move forward.
Team up. Enlist a friend so you can exchange support and encouragement. Eat lunch with a colleague who is trying to lose weight too.
Write it down. Raise your awareness by keeping a journal about your campaign to stop swearing or start flossing. Note what happens on the days you stick to your program compared to the days when you drift back into old patterns.
Remove temptations. Eliminate the triggers that distract you from your objectives. Clear the junk food out of your kitchen or the cigarettes out of your car.
Design obstacles. Make it difficult to give in to your old tendencies. Leave your credit cards at home to prevent impulsive shopping sprees.
Change your surroundings - take a vacation or trip. Leave home for a while. Vacations or getaways are an ideal time to forge new habits because you can make a fresh start in different surroundings where they're not linked to old routines and habits. Sit down to meditate each morning instead of becoming caught up in searching for lost socks or checking your email.
Link the new habit to an existing part of your routine. It's much easier to start a new habit if you link it to something you're already doing because your existing routine will be the trigger to the habit you're trying to form. Like for example, incorporating a new gratitude practice while brushing your teeth; every time you brush your teeth you will be reminded of the new habit you're introducing.
Create a checklist and check things off. Nothing takes the place of a good old-fashioned checklist. Displayed in a prominent place, it will be your daily reminder that you can feel proud of as you check off your new habits on a daily basis.
➡You can download my FREE & gorgeous Habits Checklist to keep you motivated and on track by going here https://www.elenazanfei.com/habits-checklist
Make daily exercise and parallel parking so easy you won’t even have to think about
them. Positive habits make advantageous choices automatic so you’ll stick with them.
You’ll also have more energy to devote to other challenges.
P.S. Habits are the consistent actions/activities that shape your life and the results you experience. Knowing which habits support you, which hinder you and need to be eliminated and which new ones are required in order for you to have the results you want, can be challenging to determine on our own. This is a big part of the work I do with my one-on-one clients, virtually from anywhere in the world. We look at your life in totality - everything that has created the "YOU" you are now and the habits that have created the outcomes you've experienced. Together we craft a new plan for the new and improved you and life.
Want to hop on a call and chat about what that might mean for your life? Go here to grab a spot on my calendar HERE. The call is always free and there is never any obligation.