I’ve recently been learning about how to make new habits and/or break old ones from one of my favorite ladies on YouTube and Instagram. The following post is a summary of what Katy talked about on her Instagram live videos last week (and some of my own little thoughts as well).
Making a New Habit
- Find your why or hidden why. Define your reason(s) for wanting to make the new habit. Be honest! It’s not going to help you if you convince yourself that you’re exercising for the health of your heart when really you just want to look hot in your jeans. If looks are the reason, embrace that and work hard to fit into the size you’re after (the heart health will happen anyway)! If you don’t have a good “why” for why you should be doing a good habit, but you know you need to (like drinking more water), then LOOK for a hidden why. Really think through the possible reasons for making the new habit and then focus on it. If, I need to drink more water because of my kidneys, then that needs to be my focus because I do care about it…my skin, I don’t care as much about but I will think that’s my “why” sometimes when it’s not.
- Choose a cue. Habits are formed when we link them with existing things in our lives. Call them “cues.” A cue can be a time, a place, a person, or a situation (like an emotional response) which means that cues can occur daily or randomly. But they’re all cues for our habits. When we feel the need to urinate, we have our cue and we visit the restroom. We don’t even have to think about it. That’s a habit. So, if you want to create a new habit, you must link it with a cue. One I’ve done recently is to put away dvds and videos as soon as my toddler is done watching. I used to let them all pile up and then I’d tidy them in one big swoop at the end of the day but I hated how it looked all day so I decided to form the habit of tidying up each time. My cue ended up being the actual changing out of movies and ever since I decided I wanted to put them away and start this new habit, I have successfully done it!
- Make it easy. If you want to start a new habit, make it as easy to achieve as possible. If, for example, you want to begin flossing every morning, don’t brush your teeth in a bathroom without floss! Have the floss not only in the right bathroom but also set it on the counter when you first enter to brush your teeth. Sometimes it’s just a matter of remembering things, so help yourself to do that!
- Make it attractive. If you want to increase the likelihood of success, make the new habit as attractive as possible. If you want to start exercising daily, find some workouts that you truly enjoy doing, not ones you think will give you the fastest results. If the new behavior doesn’t give you enough positive feelings, it isn’t likely to stick. A while back, I realized that I still didn’t feel happy with the results after tidying my bedroom in the morning because it was too cluttered and lacked decor that made me feel calm. If I hadn’t done anything to change that, I wouldn’t be inclined to do a daily tidy. But I did do something (I decluttered and I now have four wall hangings that I love) so I actually look forward to tidying it every morning! It is now a habit and it looks amazing.
RECAP: Find your why, choose a cue, make it easy, and make it attractive.
Breaking a Bad Habit
- Find your why or hidden why. Again, you must identify why you want to stop doing something. What’s the real reason you want to stop drinking soda? Or being on Facebook? Or biting your nails? If you are honest, you’re more likely to succeed. If you want your hands to look nice for an upcoming event, then that’s your why. It should be pretty easy to focus on that goal as you break the habit.
- Identify your cue. When do drink that soda or get on Facebook or bite your nails? There is a trigger or cue for each. Once you identify it, you can determine the real feeling you’re after. If you get on Facebook when you’re bored, you are needing to stop the feeling of boredom – choose something else (ahead of time!) to fill that feeling.
- Make it difficult. Don’t make doing an old habit easy anymore. Want to stop eating cookies? Obviously, you need to stop buying them. Remind yourself of your “why” when you’re at the store, and focus on filling the cue with another option when you’re at home.
- Make it attractive. Consider replacing the cookies with a different, healthier dessert (one you love, like fresh strawberries) or choose a fun activity to replace eating them if you’re reason for eating the cookies isn’t hunger but is actually an emotional response like sadness; in that case, text a friend instead, or watch a funny show.
RECAP: Find your why, choose a cue, make it difficult, and make it attractive.
What new habit are you interested in making? Or, do you have an old one you’re needing to break?
YOU CAN DO IT!