Habit is a cable; we weave a thread each day, and at last we cannot break it. ~Horace Mann
Beep! Beep! Beep! Your alarm is going off. It’s time to make a choice! Do you fumble around for the snooze button or do you get out of bed?
Life is all about choices. Each of us make good choices and bad choices. Do you choose to wash your dishes or let them sit in the sink until the next day? Do you choose to overspend and anxiously wait for the next paycheck or do you consistently put money into your savings? Do you choose to take responsibility for your actions or do you blame your circumstances on others? Do you choose actively parent your kids? With each choice we make, we also can change, do things in a different way and get better results.
Many people want to change their habits. Some want to develop healthy habits such as exercising on a regular basis, putting money into savings, being on time, waking up earlier, or being a more involved parent. Others want to stop bad habits such as blaming others for their problems, biting their nails, smoking, overspending, or saying bad words.
Here are some tips for developing healthy habits and making them last:
- Simple Is Best. Don’t start with 10 habits that you want to change all at once. This is easy to do because you get excited and feel like you can do anything. (Trust me, I’ve been guilty of this many, many times!) Start slow! This also applies to habits such as exercising. If you decide that you want to exercise everyday for 2 hours and you haven’t exercised for years, you will likely burn out. Start slowly and work your way up toward your goal. This will help avoid burnout.
- Commit To Your New Habit For The Long Haul. I’ve read many times that 21 days is all you need to form a new habit. Even after 4 weeks of working on the habit, you will still have to work it into your schedule! Commitment is essential for long-term success.
- Be Consistent! Work on your habit every day, at the same place, and at the same time to make your habit last. This will help the habit become part of your routine and easier to schedule into your daily calendar.
- Reminders, Reminders! The first week you start on a new habit, you are excited to work on your habit. As the weeks go on, that beginning excitement fades and you might start forgetting to work on your new habit. The way to solve this problem is to set reminders for yourself. You can do this in many ways. Sticky notes placed around your house, on your steering wheel of your car, or at work are a good way to start. This is also a good way to commit to working on the habit because once you write it down on paper, it keeps you more focused and accountable to yourself! You can send yourself a reminder through your email account. There are apps you can buy for your smart phones. My favorite is setting alarms for myself on my smart phone because after programming it to do it, I never have to set the alarms again (and it’s free)!
- Find A Friend Or Accountability Group. It’s really important to have someone to keep you on track and motivated when you want to quit. There’s a reason that Alcoholics Anonymous meet as a group. Encouragement, motivation, and knowing others are counting on you really help when you are trying to develop a new habit!
- Let Go Of Being A Perfectionist. There will be days that you will mess up on your new habit. If change was always easy, no one would have bad habits! Have a back-up plan and keep going!
- Believe In Yourself. Many people never live up to their potential because they don’t believe that they can. You can! It might take some practice but you will get there. When I started running years ago, I would tell myself that I wasn’t any good at it but if I kept trying I’d get better. I did get better! You can too, believe in yourself!
- Substitute Lost Needs. Sometimes bad habits are a way to fill a need. If you are a nail biter, instead of chewing on your hands, you could try to substitute chewing on gum instead.
- Spend Your Time With People Who Already Have The Habit You Want To Develop. They might be able to share tricks to keep you motivated and ideas to inspire you.
- Schedule Time To Reevaluate. You could do this weekly or monthly. Do you need to change-up your routine? Instead of going to the gym, could you ride your bike, go for a swim, or run around your neighborhood? Look at what is working and what isn’t. Make adjustments and keep moving forward!
- Get Rid Of Temptations. Throw out the Oreo cookies and junk food, quit buying cigarettes, and put a healthy snack into the car. Do whatever it is to remove the temptation from your life.
- Track Your Progress. This may seem very juvenile to some of you, but I’m a visual person. If I give myself a happy face on my refrigerator calendar after I complete my habit, it motivates me to want to get another one the next day. The same thing applies for stickers or crossing the day off the calendar, etc. Do what works for you but by tracking your progress you will build motivation and know exactly how you are doing on developing your new habit.
- Reward Yourself. Be careful not to reward yourself with something that could set back your habit but a small (appropriate) reward also gives you motivation.
Your Challenge: Comment below with a healthy habit that you would like to add into your life! Schedule a date to begin working on your new habit and follow the steps above. I know you can do it!
Have you enjoyed what you read here today? Do you have friends or other women you know that could benefit from this resource? If so, please do me a favor! I have included the links below to share with other intentional women! They’ll be glad you did!
If you are looking for more information on habits, here are a few books that might help you.
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