Humans— we’re like fingerprints, no two of us are completely alike. Yet we all have a common thread that runs through us; we’re creatures of habit. I have my brazilian roast with the same amount of non-dairy creamer at the same time each day, and I lay my keys in the same place on the right hand corner of my computer desk every evening like clockwork. But while these habits aren’t detrimental to your health, or counterproductive to your day, other habits you have could be.
It may seem impossible to break the hold your bad habits have on your routine, but it’s totally doable. And if you’re smart enough with how you go about creating new healthy habits, it’s not as hard as it seems. But much of what we think we know about breaking bad habits can have the opposite effect. These are the best ways to create good habits that will last a lifetime.
Change Your Bad Habits For Good
Go into it with a plan
The habits you develop while you’re still young will impact your health, productivity, financial security and happiness for decades. How much money you make, how much time you spend with your friends and family, how well your body functions years from now — all of these, in many ways are products of the habits you are building today. But to start to developing good habits you have to stick to a plan.
❑ Keep it simple - Yes change can be hard but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
❑ Write down your plan - It’s a simple way to stay on task and hold yourself accountable.
❑ Replace with the good - Find substitute habits for your bad habits
❑ Give yourself at least a month - You need enough time change your habits for good.
❑ Stay Committed - See it through. You’ll never know your potential if you quit too soon.
Start small, work your way up.
Shaking old habits is difficult. Taking on too much is a recipe for failure. This is why the gym is packed in January, and it’s half full by June. You can’t lose 30 pounds in a week. Take baby steps and build up to the bigger goal. Try to tackle one habit at a time. That will allow you to focus, and give yourself the best chance for success.
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”– Seth Godin
Understand what motivates you
Remain aware of the things that motivate you the most, and be sure they’re real! A few years ago I went through a messy break-up of a relationship that spanned over 10 years. When I finally snapped out of the stupor I was in, I looked in the mirror and realized I was 40 pounds overweight, and who’d want to date that guy. So I wrote down some of the horrible things my ex said about be on a piece of paper, and I glued her picture to the paper. I hung the paper over my dresser because I knew every morning when I go running, I get my shorts and socks from this place. She was my motivator, I would prove her wrong. And every time I didn’t feel like working out I glanced at her picture. See you have to be very clear why you’re doing this, and the benefits of your sacrifice need to be clear in your head. If you’re just doing it for vanity, while that can be a good motivator, it’s not usually enough. You need something stronger.
Find products that support healthy habits
Part of developing healthy habits is making sure your routine supports your goals. For instance, many of us start our day with some form of caffeine, typically a cup of joe, to give us the boost we need to start our day full of vigor. But there are far better options when it comes to improving your focus and productivity. More and more people are learning about the benefits of taking nootropics. What are nootropics you ask? Nootropics are supplements used to enhance cognitive function. A company called Alternascript, developed a groundbreaking nootropic called OptiMind. The ingredients in OptiMind have been studied by the top neuroscientists and institutes in the U.S. and were carefully selected to promote focus and energy. OptiMind’s ingredients were selected to enhance cognitive function. You can focus, boost learning rates, and increase energy levels, with the ingredients in OptiMind. Making a habit of taking a nootropic could boost your productivity and sharpen your focus to help you stay locked in on your goals.
The Cue, the Routine, and the Reward
According to Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Charles Duhigg, habits are composed of three parts.
The cue is the signal that reminds you to perform a habit. Something as simple as brushing your teeth as soon as you wake up. Isolating and committing to a cue will take the choice out of your hands and make the action automatic.
This is the action triggered by the cue. One of mine was looking at my ex-girlfriend's picture. Whenever I glanced over at that thing I did a set of push-ups. Whatever it is, make sure it’s tied to a specific cue, so you always know when it’s time.
It’s easiest to do something when you know you’ll feel good afterward. Build that reward into your routine. It can be as simple as watching your favorite show, listening to your favorite song, or drinking an extra special coffee. Those rewards make your brain associate the habit with positive feelings, and that makes it even easier the next time. Soon you won’t need the reward at all.
Get some help with accountability
Friends and family can often be bad influences when you’re trying to change bad habits, after all, they’re usually the ones you share your bad habits with. But there’s a way they can be your best allies in your fight to make positive change. Just tell everyone about your new mission. Let them know what date you intend on starting your new resolution. Put it up on your wall or computer desktop; make this a big day. It builds up anticipation and excitement, and helps you to prepare. It also allows the people that spend the most time with you hold you accountable, and that will go a long way in your times of weakness.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”– Aristotle
Find out what triggers your bad habits
Identify your triggers. What situations trigger your current habit? For example if you’re a smoker your trigger might be having coffee, drinking alcohol, or eating a meal. You can also be triggered by being around people who have the same bad habits. You can also find yourself in a situation where multiple triggers are present, like going out to eat with friends who smoke. Most habits have multiple triggers. Identify all of them and write them in your plan.
For every one of your triggers, you must identify a positive habit you’re going to do instead. After your coffee, instead of smoking, what will you do? What about when you get stressed about something? Or when you’re out with friends who smoke? Some positive replacement habits could include: deep breathing, reading, or writing down your goals.
These are just a few ways you can remind yourself of your commitment each hour, and at the beginning and end of your day. Read your plan over periodically. Celebrate your success. Prepare yourself for obstacles and urges, and stay determined. Soon your good habits will become your old habits, and that’s when you’re really winning.