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Are your New Year’s Resolutions staying strong? Do you have the good habits that you need to reach your goals for this year? Or, are you struggling with your resolutions and goals because you just can’t seem to form those good habits you require to get things done?
If you need help forming the good habits you dream of, then keep reading.
Well, you’re going in the right direction to accomplishing your goals this year! And, though it may take time to create a new habit and to strengthen your self discipline; it is certainly worth it. And like most things that are worth it; it may not be easy. That is why I came up with the ten tips below to help you create that new good habit you want in your life, or habits.
1. Replace Old Habits with the Habits You Want
Do you have an old habit that you’re not a fan of? Most people do. Can the new habit you want to have take it’s place? That is going to depend on the habit needing replacing and the habit you want, and most of all; it’s going to depend on you!
For example, if you want to form the good habit of drinking more water through out the day and you tend to grab a large amount of food before sitting down to read or watch TV; grab some water instead. It’ll take some time to get used to it, and may be difficult at first. But, after some time of only grabbing water to sip on while you read or watch TV; it’ll start to become second nature and your habit will shift. It may take a lot of will power to start off, but the more you do it the easier it’ll get.
You can do this with other habits as well. It’s actually very useful when you’re trying to break bad habits, not just creating new ones.
2. Focus on One Habit at a Time
Have you ever tried to start multiple good habits in a single day? Did it ever work out the way you wanted it to? Or, did you lose your motivation or willpower half way through? I’m going to guess the latter because we only have so much will power in a given day. And, as much as we would like to create all of the good habits we want in a single day; it’s just not going to happen.
If you start with focusing on just one small habit, and forming that one habit fully before moving onto the next one; you’ll have much more luck. It also won’t take as long to form all the the habits you want if you do it this way. Whereas if you tried to form them all at once you would have trouble with forming even one and eventually stop practicing any of the habits that take the slightest will power to perform. Hint, that’s practically all habits when you’re just started, unless you form them without realizing it, like drinking coffee first thing when waking up.
If you’re stubborn, like me, and don’t want to take my last tip, then this tip is for you. Grab a habit tracker, a piece of paper- or even better- a piece of graphing paper, and track how you’re doing with your new habits every single day. Write out all of the new habits you want to have on the left hand side in a list going down. Then write out the the days of the month at the top going across. (Or. Download my premade one here to print out.)Then mark off each day that you successfully practice the new habit you want.
The concept is simple. The act of actually completing all of the habits you want everyday of the month is the challenge. Try this way for a month or so to see how you do. There may be a few habits that you can start to see are easier for you than others. This is good.
When you realize that you can’t create all the habits you want at once; the habits that are completed the most through out the month will be the ones you’ll want to choose from for the first habit you’ll create and actually be able to stick with. Because you will then simply choose one habit to create and focus fully on that one habit before starting to create another one.
4. Write Down the Habit and Place it Where You Will See it
Once you choose the habit you want to create; write it down, let others know about it, and let it be known! Writing down your habit has an effect on you mentally; it makes the habit seem more real and not just a thought in your mind. Don’t simply type it out on your phone or computer, grab an actual pen and a piece of paper, or a sticky note. Then, place it somewhere you will see it when you need it the most. At this point, it’s alright to type it out on your computer or phone if the habit is related to either of those. But, a physical sticky note on your computer will stand out to you more so than the sticky note app on your computer!
If the habit you want has to do with what you eat or drink, place the written down habit in your kitchen, on the fridge, or on the actual food or drinks you want to have or avoid. If you live with others, this will get their attention as well; perfect time to let them in on the habit you want to create. Hopefully they’re nice and want to help you change your habit and not sabotage your attempts!
5. Understand Why You Want to Have this Habit in Your Life
Creating good habits is good and all, but why do you want to create the habit you chose? Will it help you in some way? Make you happier, make life easier, or what?
You need to figure this out.
I can’t tell you why you want to create a certain habit; this needs to come from you! I can, however, give you examples.
Many people start drinking coffee because it helps wake them up or get more done, same thing with drinking more water through out the day. Others start the habit of reading everyday to help them relax or to continue their education and allow them to keep learning through out their whole lives.
The reason you start your habit needs to be specific to you; your wants, goals, needs. You can’t simply take someone else’s reason for starting a habit and make it work for you. This is something you actually need to think about and make sure the reason is strong enough; if you don’t, then the habit may not stay with you. And, I’m not saying the reason needs to be complicated. It could be as simple as needing to get the taste of tooth paste out of your mouth before you go to sleep so you start the habit of drinking a glass of water before bed.
6. Treat it Like a Goal
Sometimes a habit will be tougher to create than you’d like; a lot tougher. That’s when you need to start treating it as accomplishing a goal instead of simply creating a habit. If you need to, break it down into small habits, or goals, to get you where you want to be.
For example, if you want to start drinking a liter of water right when you wake up; start by making sure you have water ready to drink when you wake up. Then make sure it’s cold if you want it cold, or left out of the fridge if cold water bothers you first thing in the morning. The next morning; take a few sips. Then a few more sips the next day. Do this til you drink a full glass. Then keep adding more water each day til you’re drinking a liter as soon as you wake up. This example takes will power, as does creating any habit. But, morning habits will be the easiest to create since you have all your willpower intact when you wake up; you haven’t used any yet that day, unless it takes you a ton of will power to simply get up. The hardest part will probably be remembering to do it in the morning!
Treating creating a habit like a goal will help you break it down into manageable little bits and actually complete the goal and create the habit. Don’t forget to celebrate a little when you finally have that habit down like it’s nothing!
7. See if There’s Anything You Can do to Make it Easier to Create
Creating good habits is hard enough; if there is anything you can do for yourself to make it easier, then do it!
For example, if you want to create the habit of eating 8 to 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day; keeping a fruit bowl on your table will give you an advantage. Remember the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’, well, if you always have fruit in sight, then it’s going to be that much easier for you to want to grab a piece and eat it. Or, if you are trying to drink more water; get a large water bottle and keep it full! (Mine is a 52 ounce water bottle, and I love it!)
You can do this for more than just eating more produce and drinking more water. Just choose the habit you want to instill and think about what would make it easier to instill it. Want to wake up earlier? Place your alarm clock or phone far enough away from the bed so you have to get up to turn it off. Want to get on a set schedule when working from home or being the stay at home parent; write it down someplace you’ll see it through out the day, or even use a timer on your phone to know when to switch to the next activity in your schedule! (Whatever you do, don’t rely on your memory for this!!)
8. Use the Pavlovian Theory
If you haven’t heard of this theory before, it’s pretty simple. Basically, Ivan Pavlov discovered that dogs would salivate after hearing a bell because the dogs would be given food and hear the bell around the same time; they were conditioned to believing they would be eating when hearing the bell. You can do the same to yourself when trying to instill habits. (If you ever watched ‘The Office’, Jim does this to Dwight with Altoids and a sound on his computer. So, Dwight ended up putting his hand out for Altoids whenever he heard the sound!)
It’s up to you if you want to condition yourself like this or not, but it has been shown to work; it wouldn’t be a theory if it didn’t. You could use a certain sound if you’d like, or anything else you can think of. Just pair the sound and the habit together intentionally, and pretty soon you won’t have to be so intentional about it at all; it’ll just happen when you hear the sound. (Maybe an alarm on your phone.) It’s kind of like when you were little and heard the theme song to Rugrats and would run out into the living room to watch it; at first you wouldn’t associate that sound to Rugrats, but after enough time you do and it causes you to run to watch it. (Or maybe that was just me!)
9. Be Patient with Yourself
I’m going to say it again; creating a habit is hard and takes time. You need to be patient with yourself and give yourself enough time to make a habit stick before going on and trying to create another good habit. If you don’t give yourself enough time to focus on just one habit, then the habit won’t stick and you’ll lose it; and, you’ll have to start all over again.
So, once you believe that you have an action you want to have in your life turned into an actual habit; give yourself a little more time to keep focusing on that one habit to make sure it sticks! You don’t want all that hard work creating the habit going to waste because you’re too anxious and want to move onto the next one as fast as you can.
10. Create a Consequence For Yourself If You Quit Before it Turns into a Habit
If all else fails, make it so you’ll want to keep going with creating the habit; create a consequence for yourself if you allow yourself to quit before the habit is instilled. It doesn’t have to be harsh. It could be as simple as allowing yourself to have a cup of coffee when you wake up if the habit you’re trying to create is waking up earlier; but then not having the coffee if you slip up and don’t wake up when planned.
The consequence you choose is up to you, but it needs to be realistic and related to the habit. If you want to drink more water through out the day but can barely remember taking a few sips; then don’t allow yourself to drink anything but water for the rest of the day (not even coffee)! Don’t be mean to yourself and punish yourself for not sticking with the habit, simply have a consequence. We all make mistakes and slip up, but if we didn’t have consequences to our actions then we would keep slipping up and then that would be the habit we instill instead of our original intent.
A Final Note on Creating Habits
You should know by now that creating habits is not a piece of cake, but will be worth it. They are meant to make our lives easier, help us out, and keep us healthy. They are worth the struggle they cause and help us to grow; mostly because after we instill them, we no longer have to think about them and they are automatic.
I hope the tips above will help you in creating the habits you want to have in your life. And, remember to not rush yourself, this isn’t a race and you don’t win by trying to instill habits faster than others. Everyone needs to go at their own speed and it’s alright if it takes you longer than someone else. We are all different and accomplish things in different ways.
Please share this if you found it useful!!
And, don’t forget to download your own habit tracker to help you progress towards better habits!!