Habits are what we fill our days with. They determine the actions that we take throughout the day and they’re difficult to change. When following the right steps though, creating new habits can be manageable. This blog post breaks down the 7 steps that I think are most important in building sustainable habits.
1. Focus on ONE habit at a time
This is the number one most important step to remember from this list.
Imagine watching your favourite YouTuber listing off all of their healthy habits. They wake up at 4am, go for a morning run and eat a healthy breakfast etc. You can feel inspired to change your whole life overnight but this never works! Changing habits takes time and focus and can easily become overwhelming.
In order to build habits that are sustainable it is essential that you focus on just one habit at a time. In the beginning you may not feel like you are making much progress but once you start adding to your existing habits, the results will show.
Choose ONE new habit and a fixed time frame. I use 1 month as my time frame because it is long enough for the habit to stick and it is easy to remember. Then, make this one habit your priority for that length of time.
2. Link the new habit to a trigger
To make it easy to remember your new habit you should schedule it after an existing habit known as a trigger. This way when you have completed your trigger action, you know that you have to do your new habit. This prevents you from putting it off or forgetting about it.
For example, if you want to create the habit of eating breakfast everyday you could schedule it after your morning shower.
3. Imagine your long-term reward
Some actions will give you immediate or short-term rewards that can help you stick to them. For example, if your new habit is to do 10 minutes of tidying every night then the reward is waking up to a clean home. However, the reward for some habits will not be as obvious.
If your new habit is to go running everyday then you may feel discouraged by your aching muscles or by how tired you feel. For high-resistance habits like this you need to constantly remind yourself of your goals.
An easy way to do this is to create a mood-board that will inspire you. Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration. Try to place your mood-board somewhere in your house as a visual reminder.
4. Start small
If a habit seems really daunting it is best to start small. If your long-term goal is to go running for 30 minutes each day, your starting habit could be to run for 5 minutes everyday.
To break it down further your habit could be the preparation before your actual goal. In the example of running, the new habit could be putting on your running clothes everyday. It is an easy task but it will motivate you to actually complete your goal.
5. Make it easy
In the beginning it is important to remove any resistance from your new habit. If you want to start eating healthy but only have unhealthy snacks at home then sticking to your new habit will be difficult. To make it easier you should make sure to have healthy snacks easily available.
Preparation is key. If you want to start working out in the morning then a tip to make it easier is to lay out your workout clothes the night before.
6. Track your new habit
Habit trackers are a great way to motivate you to follow through with your new habits. They work both as visual reminders and motivators. When we check off items on our habit trackers our brain releases dopamine which makes us feel good. I like to use a calendar but there are many more creative bullet journal trackers on Pinterest.
7. Don’t be discouraged by mistakes
Mistakes. We all make them in the beginning! It is important that you don’t let your mistakes prevent you from continuing with your new habit.
If you forget to complete your habit one day, put that behind you and remember your end goal. Messing up one day isn’t going to affect your long-term results but giving up on your habit will.