How To Create New Daily Habits That Last
Your habits are very important, or so everyone says.
But while everyone talks about what habits you should have in your life---reading, walking, exercising, meditating being the most popular---nobody really talks about how to create new daily habits in your life.
So today we're going to teach you how to create new daily habits in your life that LAST.
First thing's first, let's start at the start...
What Is A Habit?
A habit is simply something that you repeatedly do.
This can be a good thing, like going to the gym every other day, or this can be a bad thing, like smoking a pack of cigarettes everyday.
As a human being, you are a creature of habit.
We have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to utilize habits to help us live our lives and that isn't going to change anytime soon.
So it's best to understand how habits work and how you can use that knowledge to make your habits work for you, not against you.
How Do Habits Work?
Here's the thing, your brain can not tell the difference between a good habit and a bad habit.
Habits are simply habits to your brain/body.
Whichever habit you choose to do, your brain will naturally begin to form connections that make that habit easier and easier to do until the process becomes automatic.
For example, let's look at riding a bike.
It takes a while for someone to first learn how to ride a bike.
Once you learn how to ride however, the pathways are created in your brain that contain the skill of riding a bike.
Every time you go to ride a bike after those connections are formed, your brain follows those connections, and those connections become deeper & more complex in your brain.
Those connections, unless actively acted upon are going to sit in your brain for the rest of your life.
That's why, after you learn how to ride a bike, even if you don't ride one for years, you can hop on a bike today and after a few minutes be riding around no problem.
After you create new habits your brain simply sparks up those pathways and off you go.
So... How Do You Program Your Brain To Follow Good Habits?
There are three components to a habit loop.
Cue, Action, and Reward.
- Cue is simply the thing that your brain recognizes as the thing that starts the habit feedback loop.
This can be seeing a bicycle sitting in your garage and you getting on it.
- Action is the thing that you do after your brain recognizes the cue.
In response to seeing the bike and getting on it, your brain remembers that you must pedal to move forward and balance so you don't topple over.
- Reward is the result of the action that you performed for that specific cue.
You ride the bike after following the action's that your brain has developed for you.
These three components are what create every single habit of your life.
So when you want to build a new habit it's important to take those 3 components into account.
Building A New Habit
Scientists have done many studies on habits and have come to 2 important conclusions:
1. It takes 21 days to form a habit (on average)
2. It takes 66 days for a habit to become automatic (on average)
Taking all of that information into account, here's how we can build new healthy habits that push us forward in business & life.
Step 1: Pick a new habit
Let's say you want to start going to the gym regularly. You want to start going 5-times per week.
An admirable new habit to start.
Step 2: Create a cue for your new habit
You want to start going to the gym.
The only time when you are available to go to the gym is going to be in the hour after work before you go home for the night.
So you create an alarm that is set to go off every single day at 5:30 pm reminding you to go to the gym.
Step 3: Create an action for that cue
Everyday when you see that alarm go off on your phone at 5:30, you must drop whatever it is you were doing or thinking of doing and go to the gym.
At first this will be difficult. Life will get in the way. You won't feel like going to the gym.
This is the most crucial point.
You are now in the stage of literally changing your brain chemistry to create a new pathway for going to the gym.
You will face a lot of resistance in the beginning. Ignore it and follow the action that you have set out for yourself.
For the next 21 days, 5:30 PM is gym time no matter what.
Step 4: Give yourself a reward for that action
For many people, the feeling they get after completing a workout session is reward enough.
For other people, they need something else to keep them going.
Everyone is different, so you should get a little creative and think of a good reward that will entice you to go to the gym more often.
- Drink a delicious protein shake after every workout.
- Binge out eating a big bowl of ice cream after dinner.
- Relax in the sauna for 10 minutes.
- Put $5 in a jar, paying yourself for doing your habits, so that you can spend your rewards on something that you really want, guilt free
- Allow yourself to play video games or watch a movie that night
Whichever reward you choose, simply remember that it should be personal and relevant to you.
It should be something that you look forward to and that entices you to do that action!
Step 5: Consistency
On average, it takes 21 days to form a habit & 66 days for that habit to become automatic.
Consistency is King here.
If your habit that you are beginning is to go to the gym at 5:30 PM every weekday, then that is what you must do every weekday.
After following this routine for a period of time, say for 21 days straight, it will become a lot easier to do.
Over time, you will think less and less about how you need to do your habit and you will just start doing your habit.
A little after 2 months of consistently doing this, your habit will have created enough connections in your brain to become "autonomous".
Meaning, when 5:30 rolls around, you will find yourself instinctively heading to the gym or already at the gym.
And if you're not, something will feel off about your day.
That's the goal.
So, What New (Healthy) Habit Are You Going To Do?
What new habit if you began doing today, or tomorrow, would have the most positive impact on your life?
What is something that you've been meaning to do for a long time but have kept putting off for whatever reason?
Your habit doesn't have to be a big thing like going to the gym 5 times per week.
It can be small, like flossing your teeth every night.
Or meditating for 10 minutes everyday.
Or writing down the food you ate that day.
It's your life & it's your habits.
So pick something good and let us know how it goes!