5 Ways to Create New Habits
Whenever we want to create something new – whether it’s a dream career, a new home or a healthier body – we know we’ll have to make some changes. We’ll have to think or act differently.
And yet change isn’t easy for many of us – as much as we dream of better things, our comfort zones are just so… comfy!
But there is a way to make these changes easier – with less need for force, willpower or the traumatic destruction of our comfort zones.
Introducing… the power of habits.
Habits are extremely powerful. We are creatures of habit. Once an action or idea becomes ingrained in our habitual way of life, it takes on a life of its own. Anyone who has tried to change a ‘bad habit’ knows just how powerful habits can be.
But instead of trying to break unsupportive habits, we can take a more positive, creative approach. We can focus instead on creating new supportive habits – actions or thoughts that will naturally lead us in the direction we want to go.
What good habits can you explore that would naturally and easily support your goals? Giving some attention to those new habits can be a powerful way to create the results you’re seeking, with more ease and less struggle.
And to help you, here are 5 lessons I’ve learned from many years of studying habits and experimenting with my own results.
5 Ways to Create New Habits
Take it easy
When it comes to creating new habits – easy is good. Whenever we’re trying to install new behaviors, the easier it is, the more likely we are to persevere long enough to build momentum. So start small and simple.
What’s the easiest new habit you can think of that would help you in your goal? See if you can make it even easier. Then start there.
And don’t worry that it won’t lead to the big changes you’re seeking. The only job for this easy new baby habit is to just get you moving in a new direction. It’s a little like steering a large ship; turning the wheel just one degree will set you on a whole new course.
The habits you have today have built up over years, maybe even decades. And the longer the habit, the stronger the habit. Be patient when attempting to establish your new habits. Accept that it will take time for this new behavior to form a groove in your mind. You may need to consciously perform your new action many, many, many times before it becomes automatic. But if you persevere – it will gradually become second nature.
And when it does, you won’t need willpower or force – you’ll have reached the zone of unconscious competence, where your new behavior comes so naturally that you don’t even need to think about it.
Picture this new you – with this new behavior as an easy and effortless way of life…. Isn’t that worth giving a little time to? Besides, time will pass anyway, and when you reach the point where your new habit naturally supports your dreams and goals, you’ll be so glad you persevered.
When setting a new habit, you’re up against the might of your old established patterns. This may be a David-and-Goliath-style battle! So be kind to yourself. Unless you have superhuman willpower, your first attempts may be… patchy. Expect these early efforts to be hit-and-miss. Allow for the fact that you are turning a powerful tide and it won’t happen in just one day. If you lapse in your efforts, just look for any helpful feedback that will be useful for next time. Forgive yourself and know you can always try again. And again. And again.
Lapses are not proof that you can’t do it. They are a completely normal part of setting a new habit. The kinder you are to yourself in the early stage of the process, the more likely you are to succeed. (As an added incentive; this self-kindness has beneficial side-effects that will help you far beyond your new habit).
You know your new habit is going to take time, and you know it’s going to be quite tricky (at first). So prepare yourself for the inevitable lapses by keeping your vision firmly in mind. If you’re intent on forming this new habit, you must have a good reason why. Remind yourself of this ‘why’ whenever you’re feeling bruised by your efforts. Keep a visual reminder somewhere prominent.For example, if your new habit is to help you write that book, keep an image on your desk that represents why you want to write it. If your new habit is to help you create a home you love, keep an image of that vision in your current home.
This aide memoir will help you on many levels:
• It will encourage you when things aren’t going so well.
• It will motivate you every time you see it, strengthening your resolve to stick with it.
• It will reprogram your subconscious mind to see your vision as your new normal. (Your subconscious loves images!)
So to increase your chances of success and make it easier to establish your new habit, keep an image of your desired results somewhere you will see it often.
Start with a decision. If you’ve reached a point where you’ll no longer accept any other option, there is great power in that decisive energy. But if you’re not at that all-or-nothing stage, you can still harness the power of decision. You needn’t decide that you WILL do this, if that feels forced or false. Instead, you can make the gentler decision that you will simply keep trying.
This approach is less about steely determination and more about intention. It’s a quiet commitment – perhaps less forceful than sheer willpower, but I believe, more sustainable.
So make the decision that feels right to you.
Decide what is important to you.
Decide that you matter enough to keep trying.
Decide that you will do all you can, as best you can.
And of course, decide that you will also be patient and kind to yourself along the way.
You are creative
It often feels that we aren’t in control of our habits, that they are controlling us. And it’s true that once a habit is set, it can lead to automatic, even unconscious behavior.
But you are the creator of your life.
You are a creative work-in-progress – at any point you can decide the way you want your life to go.
And creating new supportive habits is a powerful way to move your life in the direction of your goals and dreams.
So what will your first new supportive habit be…?
For more ways to tap into your creativity be sure to download my guide here!