The New Year always prompts us to think of resolutions. “New Year, new me” is what we always try to say (or at least think). Not to mention the media’s heavy push for new diets, exercise routines, binge-watching habits, and managing money differently. We may feel pressured to give up our most-loved, yet harmful habits in favour of better ones.
However you feel influenced to change your life, chances are that if you think you need to make a habit-change, you do. However, habits don’t necessarily seem to stick all the time, and making a change may feel too daunting to even try. You should definitely try; bad habits may be affecting your health, productivity, and overall happiness.
According to health coach, author, and yogi, Kayla Gorrell, “The three parts of any habit are the cue, routine and reward. The cue is what triggers the desire to do a certain behavior. Cues can be determined by the environment, emotions, and people. The routine is the specific action that results. The reward is the end goal which is often the pleasure or satisfaction that the individual desired.” The cue and reward pieces are hard to control so if we want to break bad habits, our routine must be altered.
Regardless of the start date, it’s important to check in with our daily routines and make sure that they align with our values and ultimately, how we want to be living. Follow these three steps for making a habit and sticking to it.
To make a change, you must first be aware of exactly what you want to change. Reflect on your daily living, habits, and routines in either a journal or agenda. Write down one area (or more) of your life that is not exactly where you want it to be. Reflect on what you wish to change, what feelings are associated with this area of your life, what’s holding you back, and the reasons for said change.
Be sure to find a new activity to replace an old one. For instance, if you want to cut back on watching TV, choose another activity to do instead, such as reading, going for a walk, or taking up a new hobby. Have a clear goal in mind and be sure to look at your goals and motivations often, especially during the first couple of weeks of forming your new habits. In addition, reflect on your progress throughout the next two steps.
See those goals get to work! Tracking your progress, the old and the new habits, make it even clearer to see how they affect your life. Tracking your habits creates a way to identify patterns and clearly see the progression and change. By giving yourself actionable steps to reach your goal, you activate the positive reward system in your mind. So, when you complete your new habit and checkmark your box, you automatically feel good about it (plus it gives you something new and fun to do). Try bullet journaling and create your very own habit tracker or find printable pages to use, like these ones from Pinterest.
A new habit takes 21 days to form and only three days to break. It’s hard to make a change because it’s unfamiliar. A new habit is out of your comfort zone (no matter how positive it is) and it may seem easier to revert back to your old ways. Be accountable to yourself to do the things you intend to do (or stop doing) and make the change you wish to see in your life.
After reflecting and tracking your new habits, you will begin to see how it becomes as natural as those pesky old habits. The uncomfortable feelings will dissipate and the new habits simply become a part of your daily routine. If you try hard and do this for only three weeks, you will be on your way to a healthier, happier you! However, it only takes three days to slip back into your old patterns… So stay diligent!
Above all, be committed and be consistent.
Repeat as needed
Each day is a new day to try again and if you keep going, you might just get there. There’s no limit to how many chances you give yourself and how many habits you could incorporate into your routine. Don’t beat yourself up, stay motivated, and keep going.
If you follow these steps, by this time next year you could surprise yourself by what you have accomplished and reflect on all the positive changes you have made!
Want some extra support, and maybe a daily reminder on implementing habits into your life? Check out these essential books, that are also a part of Indigo’s Best Self-Help Books of All Time collection:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People– Stephen R. Covey
The Power of Habit– Charles Duhigg
Atomic Habits– James Clear
Reap the long term benefits of a positive lifestyle change and find out what further progress you can make by continuing with it.
What habits are you changing?
I'm a creative, passionate individual with an eye for a good story. Find me on my best days drinking coffee, listening to the summer rain, reading about the next wellness trend, or learning about Toronto's cultural hotspots.