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Creating Habits

6 July 2015

We all have habits, as humans we are habitual creatures, some are good some are bad. However creating good, new habits can be extremely hard. This is because it takes repetition and consistency to create new habits. How many times have you said to yourself ‘I’m going to join a gym and go 3 times a week’ or ‘I’m going to quit smoking’ and failed to follow through with these new habits. In this blog I’m going to explain why it’s hard to create new habits and what you can do to create some habits that will help not hinder you.

Why it’s hard to create new habits:

  1. Your life gets in the way: There’s always a barrier or excuse to stop you from creating a good new habit.
  2. You lack the will power: It takes patience and perseverance. Most people give up too soon, they don’t stick to the habit long enough for it to become part of their day to day life.
  3. You don’t have a plan of action: You know where you are starting and what you want to achieve but you don’t have the plan to connect the dots. So you either give up or get disillusioned with whether or not your new habit is working.
  4. Your bad habits are getting in the way: Some of your bad habits are so bad and so ingrained into you that they are preventing you from creating good new habits.

What you can do to correct these problems and create new habits:

The first thing you need to do to create a new habit is write down what habit you want to create and commit to it. Not only write it down but make it visible, you could stick it on your fridge, on your desk at work, put it in your purse or wallet, just somewhere where you will see it and it will remind you. It’s also an extremely good idea to have someone who holds you accountable to your new habit. This could be a loved one, friend, training partner, work colleague or a personal trainer.

Next you need to stick to it. Research has now shown that it can take anything from 3 weeks to 6 months for a behavior or habit to be formed and become automatic. Although from my personal experience I like to use the 21 day policy. I found with my own clients that if someone commits to a habit for 21 days consecutively they will more than likely form this new habit and build it into their lifestyle. Most smokers who try to quit generally give up on quitting in the initial 21 days. Those who go beyond that period have a higher percentage chance of quitting… for good! Even when you feel like giving up remind yourself of why you are creating this new habit. Even if you mess up here and there after the 21 days, stick with it and the habit will form.

Put a plan together of how you are going to make this new habit part of your everyday lifestyle. If your new habit is to exercise more or even start exercising then you need a plan to make this happen. This is the same if you’re going to change your eating habits. Plan out what meals you’re going to eat and make a shopping list in advance.

Get rid of the bad habits by creating the new ones. The new habit maybe to simply stop doing one of your bad habits. You are always bound to have a few bad habits but if you can start to eliminate some of them then you can create more and more good ones.

The last point I’m going to make is that you should only try and create one habit at a time. Trying to do too much will undoubtedly lead to failure. Pick one habit and work on it until it’s part of your life.

I’ll leave you with an example of how I created a new habit this year. I decided at the start of the year that I would become a pescetarian. This meant I would stop eating the flesh from any other animal other than fish and seafood. I wanted to do this for two reasons. The first was to see if it would benefit my overall health as I was a big meat eater. The second was to make my diet more varied. I’ll be the first to admit that at first I found this difficult and I messed up on a couple of occasions, mainly when I’d been invited for dinner and my friends didn’t know about my new way of eating. However I stuck with it and I haven’t eaten meat since February. I’m now a fully fledged pescetarian. My health is better than it’s ever been and my diet has much more variation because I have to be more creative with my meals, which is great because I love cooking.

Creating habit is all about repetition and sticking with it, even when the going gets tough. Before you know it you’ll have created a new habit and it’ll be part of your lifestyle.

Why not start today and create a new habit… Just make sure it’s a good one!

 

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