If you could add something to your daily routine without a second thought, what would it be?
Some might say they’d want to exercise every day, or eat healthy without even thinking about it. Often, habits that we want are related to dreams we’ve always had, and it’s likely that there are several habits you’d add to your routine if you knew how.
Unfortunately, forming a new habit can be incredibly difficult. How do we make time when we’re already pressed for time as it is?
With a bit of elbow grease, you can form your new good habit by following a few tips and staying positive.
How to Create a New Habit
1. Define the new habit
This might sound obvious, but hear me out. Your new habit might be too vague. You might want to write every morning, but what exactly do you want to write? Do you want to work on a novel, or do you want to write a blog post? Figure out exactly what you want to add to your routine. The more specific you are, the more likely you will be to stick to it.
2. Figure out your personal “whys”
Why do you want this new habit? You might want to drink green tea every day because you’ve heard it’s healthy, but that’s not much of personal investment. Figure out exactly why you want to drink green tea, and even write the reasons down. Remember that you’re forming this new habit for you and no one else, and so you should feel dedicated and passionate about it.
Related: How to Get Motivated From Within
3. Figure out the “habit loop”
In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains a “simple neurological loop” that MIT researchers discovered. This loop is what creates habits and consists of three parts: cue, routine, and reward. The tricky part of this formula is figuring out the cue.
For example, if you want to start going to the gym regularly, that would be the routine, and your reward might be feeling energized and relaxed, but you need to figure out what cue would get you to go regularly.
4. Get inspiration
Often, I get the motivation to eat clean after seeing posts from healthy foodies on Instagram. Find people or companies that will give you inspiration, and follow them on social media. Or, if you’re not much of a social media person, subscribe to newsletters that have to do with your new routine. This way, you’ll get weekly or daily inspiration without having to actively find it!
5. Utilize non-removable reminders
That sounds a little frightening, but a non-removable reminder is simply a reminder of an activity that’s a little stronger than a Post-It Note. For example, researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology found that nail-biting participants who were resolved to quit nail-biting were more likely to stop when they were wearing non-removable wristbands to remind them.
Though this has to do with getting rid of bad habits, it can be applied to adopting good habits as well. Try reminding yourself by wearing a rubber band or something else that will keep your habit top of mind.
6. Push through
It might feel difficult and even foreign to get yourself into a new routine, but keep at it! Science even says that it will get easier the longer you try. Studies show that though forming a new habit initially takes a lot of effort, it became easier and even automatic over time—you just have to huff and puff a bit at the beginning.
Related: 11 Ways to Be Mentally Tough
7. Remember that everyone’s different
Though many claim that it takes three weeks to form a habit, the results of one study found that while some formed a habit in 18 days, others took 254 days. Don’t get discouraged if it’s still difficult to make yourself work out after three weeks, because everyone is different. Give it time, don’t give up, and don’t compare yourself to anyone else but yourself.
Even if it seems impossible now, in time you can make your new habit feel as natural as breathing, but it takes some work at first. Through defining it (specifically!), figuring out your personal “whys,” figuring out your cue, getting inspiration, using non-removable reminders, pushing through, and remembering that you are your own person, you can make it happen. Soon enough, that good habit won’t seem like the massive obstacle it does now—it will just become a part of your day.
Photo by c00llmarie
Originally published 11/13 and updated 11/14.