How to form a habit (In 6 easy steps)

Photo by My Life Journal on Unsplash

Based on studies, a huge portion of what we do are mainly habits and the remaining are only the conscious decisions that we choose each day. This means that we’re almost in an autopilot state most of the time, that we didn’t even noticed what we are doing.

Have you noticed someone’s reaction or expression may vary for each individual that you’ve met? How about the way someone walks? How about the first thing you do in the morning? Or even the things that you do before you sleep?

As a result of the autopilot aspect that is happening to our life, we often neglect how critical for us to build GOOD HABITS. There are also BAD HABITS that we should avoid such as smoking when you will nervous, eating desserts even though you’re already stuff, or even eating even during office breaks. These BAD HABITS actually kicks in a lot of dopamine at first but in the long run it won’t do any good for you.

Then I come across this question; “Why our brain needs to build habit?”

As a result of my research from our ultimate research tool of all time “Google”. I found this:

Habit formation is incredibly useful because the conscious mind is the bottleneck of the brain. It can only pay attention to one problem at a time. As a result, your brain is always working to preserve your conscious attention for whatever task is most essential. Whenever possible, the conscious mind likes to pawn off tasks to the nonconscious mind to do automatically. This is precisely what happens when a habit is formed. Habits reduce cognitive load and free up mental capacity, so you can allocate your attention to other tasks.

From the blog: Why your brain builds habits (I have included a link for your reference).

This is also the reason why certain people or athletes have distinct habits. And since you are reading this you might have across already with some of the habits of the successful people. That’s why we created this post, to help you on your journey of building your new habit and also to make it easier for everyone to build new habits.

I, myself, is also a fan of building habits and I have list down some of things that I am currently doing to build habits that I wanted, here it is:

 

Step 1: Plan your new habit

Before your start forming a new habit you need first to link it with your current goals, this can be your yearly goal or monthly goal. This is critical as it gives you a deeper meaning or perspective to what you are doing (although sometimes it might work just knowing what habit and doing the process, but we, people, tend to be more visual than everyone thought so). This is also the reason why each company has a mission and vision, to let their people see where their company is heading. Without this, anyone may stumble and be out of track. (Refer to this link if your want to know practical approach in reaching your goals.

However, we also should give a lot of attention to the habits the create this goal. If you just decided to do something without a deeper reason/goal, you may end up not building any habit or might stumble after trying for a short period of time.

In addition to this, you have to do it one at a time! (You have to give yourself some time to build a habit). You need to focus on one habit then one over the other, but there are habits that also build other habits. This was termed in the book of Power of habits as the “Keystone habits”. When you started forming this habit, it creates additional habits. These are some of the sample of keystone habits:

a) Reading non-fiction books –> Depending on the field of knowledge you are interested with but you eventually become more conscious on your daily life stuffs. (Finance->spending habits or even investing, productivity->time management)

b) Exercising -> Then eventually you will start being picky with your food and be more conscious with your health.

These are also the reason why most of the successful people do either or all of the above keystone habits. It creates a ripple effect to your life and eventually making a more meaningful one. Now start planning now and list it down!

 

Step 2: Anchor with old habits

Habits cannot be broken but can only be replaced and the easiest way to build one is SET IT RIGHT AFTER YOUR OLD HABITS (does that sounds clear?). To put it into perspective, let’s have a more concrete example, ff someone wants to build the habit of ‘Reading’ then you need to link it with your old habit like doing the reading before sleeping or after eating dinner.

Another thing, if you want to have a habit of ‘Doing exercise in the morning’ then you can link it as a post activity once you brush your teeth when you woke up, then, with self-discipline and consistency it can eventually turned to be your new habit. (It sounds a lot easier now, right?)

The key here is making it as part of your DAILY TASK until your brain recognized this as a new ROUTINE and eventually becomes a HABIT, then ultimately becomes your LIFESTYLE or “WHO YOU ARE”.

The ULTIMATE FORM OF AN HABIT is when it becomes your IDENTITY. If you represent yourself as an “Organized person” and most of the external (such as people praising you for being an “Organized person”) and internal (like you constantly keep on doing it) factors validated it. It will be common thing for you to keep things organized as you have already created your “OWN IDENTITY” as a result of the conscious and consistent actions you did.

This is also the reason why we commonly associate the person to their activities such as an “Athlete”, a “Productive person” and a “Lazy person”, this is because their activities or what we called their GOOD/BAD HABITS creates their IDENTITY.

 

Step 3: Commit to do it for 2 weeks

This doesn’t necessarily mean that after 2 weeks you already have the habit that you wanted. This is just breaking down your habit, for you not TO BE OVERWHELMED and TO KEEP YOU GOING. We are often HYPED with the first or second try then until the time comes that we forgot to do it consistently. The 2-week interval allows you to see your progress and tweak whatever that you need to change in the habit that you are building. This is also the concept coming from the snowball effect, the more you do something the more it is easier for you to do it again and again. That’s why you must keep going!

This is originally coming from Thomas Franks vlogs, who’s a master of “Habit building and Productivity”, you must subscribe to his channel. (He gives a lot of insightful ideas and steps on how you can be more productive and all other things to improve yourself.)

Just remember make it SIMPLE! for you not to be OVERWHELMED, commit yourself in doing it regularly for 2 weeks or so.

 

Step 4: Make and Take it easy!!

These two terms are critical!! For you to keep it going. At the end of the day, it is NOT ONLY THE MOTIVATION that is important, you also have to SWEAT FOR IT!! (Just trying to exaggerate it though-you can also check our post related to “Why motivation comes and goes?“).

The two concepts of this step will determine if you will be able to do it consistently:

MAKE IT EASY! – You have to ensure that the “Friction” for you to do it has been lessen to a level that it is easier for you to do it without exerting much effort. For example, if you wanted to start “Reading” ensure that all your books are visible or placed in a place where you can easily see it, it would take you a lot of effort if it is hidden in the cabinet or inside your bag and will eventually stop you from building this habit.

How about going the gym at the morning? Try wearing your gym outfit the night before to make it easier for you to decide on doing it the next morning.

The key here is, you have to lessen the required effort for you to execute it and increase the chance of you doing it, by making it more visible/available for you!

TAKE IT EASY! – This is somewhat a mental process for you to think that you must enjoy what you are doing by reminding yourself on what are the benefits you can gain from it. Another thing is to reward yourself for you to keep on building this habit. This is important in a way that you constantly remind yourself for the benefits (it be can short-term through such as rewards or the long-term benefits that you may rip in the future). It is impossible for someone to continue building the habit if it is perceived as a punishment for yourself.

That’s also the reason why not everyone sticks with their exercise as they commonly perceived this as a chore which is difficult to do or somewhat a punishment for them. Now this time, TAKE IT EASY! LOVE WHAT YOU ARE DOING!  Embrace the process and keep doing it until you formed the habit!!

 

Step 5: Have a back-up plan

This is the common start of the problem, we often plan on the activities that we need to do to form a habit,  but we often neglect to plan for other scenarios that normally happens, and that’s the time when started missing out from your committed plans. Have you created one before? I bet not.

We all have to prepare for the worst thing and ensure that we have plan when we missed some days for us to get back on track. Also, a plan when we feel like not doing it. Other do the 2-day rule, this rule sets you an allowance that you can only miss a habit not for more than 2 consecutive days. It allows you to be committed and get back on track whenever you missed some days. This gives the somewhat “force” to keep on pushing yourself. You can check it here, in Matt D’Avella’s posts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfLHTLQZ5nc

Happy Day of the Seafarer (8)

Step 6: Repeat! Repeat! Repeat!

Habit building is never a single rule you can do other things to build your habit. But always remember, that you have to do these steps again and again until it sticks with you. Remember the only reason that you will FAIL IS WHEN YOU QUIT! Whenever you’re out of track, give yourself a pat and do it again.  But you should NEVER EVER GIVE UP!! Those who don’t quit are the ones who SUCCEEDS.

 

 

4 Replies to “How to form a habit (In 6 easy steps)”

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