We want to educate you on creating good habits so you can use the skills to live the YES life. Saying no can sometimes be too easy, and we want that to stop here!
Creating a new routine with new good habits as well as getting rid of old bad ones can seem daunting at first – which is why we’ve had a look at the psychology behind it all and narrowed it down for you. We’ve also included some helpful tips and tricks, so let’s get started!
In order to change something you need to have a proper look at it first – know your enemy, right? Wrong. Bad habits are obviously bad and will hold you back, but the good ones – the good ones! – they can give you invaluable help on your journey toward change.
So, what are habits then? There’s a simple answer: habits are actions that we do frequently and automatically as a response to a specific stimulus. Wow, that sounds a bit too scientific so let’s have a closer look, shall we?
Basically, habits are the thing we do without thinking when we’re presented with a cue. Do you always tie your shoes in the same order? Habit. Reach for the soap straight after you put the tap on? Habit. Check your phone first thing in the morning? Yes, that’s also a habit.
There are three simple steps that together form a habit, let’s go through them:
This can be any kind of trigger or stimuli that make you do something: a dark room will make you turn the light on; if you see the pile of bills you’ll remember to pay them; and when you smell coffee, you are gonna want a cup of that sweet java. What acts like a trigger varies from person to person.
This is the actual habit; the action that you do because of the cue-triggered you, and because you want whatever kind of satisfaction it is that this specific action will provide. The actual action is not what you’re after – you don’t want to put the stereo on, you want to listen to music, right? – but it will take you there.
Here, this is the place you want to be! This is where you are entertained, refreshed, not hungry anymore.. In other words: what you feel now, even if it’s only for a millisecond, is what the cue made you crave. If it’s not actually rewarding you probably won’t listen to that cue again, but if you like it, a habit is (soon) born!
As you can see, habits in themselves are neither good nor bad but knowing how to remove or create one of your choosing is a really powerful tool to have in your toolbox!
This is where it really gets interesting! It’s all well and good to know the theory behind how habits work, but actually applying it to your own life and making sure that it happens is another story. We all have different things that will work for us, but there are still some useful pointers that can help.
This is a vital step because if you don’t know what you want, achieving it will be kind of tricky. Perhaps you want to learn how to play the guitar, see your friends more often or just gain new, exciting experiences? Great, let’s do it!
Once you have your goal in mind – however big or small – it’s time for a somewhat shocking revelation: you don’t need to be too bothered about what you do to get there. Sounds weird, right, but hear us out: instead of thinking “I’m gonna read one book a week,” try “I’m gonna be someone who reads one book a week.” If you focus on who you are, rather than what you do, your habit will become second nature instead of a chore. Smart, right?
For a habit to happen at all – let alone stick – there must be some kind of cue. If you really think about it, you’ll probably discover that your whole life is based on cues or a combination of them.
If you spend some time figuring out what makes you tick – and when – it will be a lot easier to make the right adjustments – and this goes for getting rid of bad habits too, where “out of sight, out of mind” is a really good tip. Once you have a pretty good idea about what habits you have, let’s continue to the next step!
This is where you adjust and manipulate your cues and form an environment that will work with you in achieving your goals. Want to cycle to work? Hide the car keys. Yoga in the morning? Leave the yoga mat out. If you’re surrounded by the right cues, your success rate will be a lot higher.
Even better than finding the perfect cue, is to anchor it to another habit that you already have, and take advantage of the initial cue that you already respond automatically to. If you want to start flossing, always do it straight after brushing your teeth. In this way, flossing and tooth brushing will eventually become one single habit. Easy peasy!
Here’s another important point – don’t expect miracles overnight! Start small and slow: if you want to learn how to play the piano, start with simple one-hand scales, and if you want to visit all the museums in the area, do it one at a time. Every little change you make counts, so let it take time!
Yet another – phew! – the important thing to keep in mind: doing the tiniest bit is far better than doing nothing at all. Remember what we said about changing your identity, not only your actions? Well, if you can’t make it – let’s say your plan is to take one weekend trip a month, but Christmas is coming up and there’s no way you’ll have the time – do a mini-version instead – perhaps spend an afternoon doing a little road trip. That way, you’re still responding to the cue, perfect!
Yes, you heard me. Whatever your new habit is and whoever you are, you will, most definitely, fail at some point, and forget about your habit or just not go through with it. That’s just life, and that’s perfectly fine. The important thing is to not let it discourage you and to get back on track as soon as you possibly can. If you do that, then you can forget about not making it to the gym last week – it’s just water under the bridge!
Life is busy, and with a whole bunch of things on your plate, it might be hard to keep track and to stay motivated, which is exactly why we’ve had a little look for good tips and tricks to help you stay on track!
Yep, apps can be fantastically helpful when it comes to organization and motivation. There are simple ones that remind you of a habit of your choice, you can then check it off once it’s completed. There’s usually interesting stats as well, so you can get an idea of which days you struggle or when you’re doing really well.
Other apps will sort your schedule for the day out. It might be a little fiddly to fill in all the slots, but it’s quite surprising how much just having a simple time table to follow – secret sources tell us that one of our own got chores done she had put off for months – the first day she used it! Having an endpoint in mind makes it easier to not give up.
Yes, rewards are great for creating habits, but not in the way that you might think. Using a reward as a carrot, something to work towards, that’s good, right? Wrong.
If your reward is not directly connected to your habit, then what’s stopping you from getting that new dress or having a big ice cream even if you don’t do what you’re supposed to? That’s right, nothing. Instead, make your reward something small that you can’t get unless you actually finish your task – like a little souvenir from every place you visit or a coffee from the place just outside where you take your karate lessons. Trust us, it works like a charm.
And quite possibly the most important one – do something that you like! Anything that you have to force yourself to endure isn’t gonna last, and life’s too short for that kind of stuff anyway. So find a way to reach your goal by doing something that you enjoy. That’s it for now, folks – go get ‘em, tiger!