It’s easy to think that the daily activities we attend to are totally self-directed, and to some degree they are, but it’s also true that our minds tend to conform to habits because it’s easy to do that. Over time, the ways of doing things become integrated into the core of who we are. For instance, there was once a time when walking was the toughest thing you ever had to learn, and someone took the time to help teach you so that you could do it seamlessly today. Walking is more than a habit, but you can see how it conforms to the same logic. When you form a new habit, it can replace an old one that isn’t healthy for you.
Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” For this reason, it’s worthwhile to think of what kind of habit you hope to build, and what techniques you can use to achieve this in the long run.
1. Understand its purpose
Unless you believe a good habit is worth following, you probably won’t be as invested in it as you ought to be. For instance, heading to the Sage Dental Implant and Smile Centre on a bi-yearly basis can help you keep your teeth healthy. The value of that is obvious. But running three times a week can be tough unless we know exactly how much weight we want to lose, or unless we know the program we hope to follow.
Maybe you focus on the Couch to 5k program, for example, which helps you run 5k in around 9-12 weeks. When you do the research and understand this is worth building on, you’ll be more enthusiastic about the process.
2. To form a new habit, schedule it properly
Schedule the habit properly. When will you take part in it?
If your goal is getting better sleep, which is a great habit, setting morning and evening times to wake and get to bed trains your circadian rhythm well. Otherwise, it’s easy to spend hours on your phone in bed, robbing yourself of the valuable hours you need. A proper schedule can work wonders, provided you also integrate rest days and give yourself a break.
3. Stick to it and pace yourself
Discipline is necessary when you hope to integrate any new habit. There will come a time when you question the utility of something you’ve already deemed worthwhile because you won’t feel like taking part in it, or the growing pains can be tough. Just stick with it.
But also, pace yourself on the journey. For instance, people who get very excited about making a difference at the gym or starting a new diet can find themselves being ultra militant and forceful about progress.
This usually only leads to somewhat of a crash and burn. That can leave even a well-meaning person out of energy.
Remember that habits take momentum to build – so don’t lose faith if you need to walk before you can run. With these insights, I hope you can begin to integrate a new, worthwhile habit.