Many of us wish that we could create good habits in our lives. We wish we could exercise more, read more, better manage our finances, or improve our lives in other ways.
However, no matter how much we tell ourselves that we want to improve, it can be difficult to stick with our high-flown expectations. Creating a habit, like so many other things in life, requires dedication and planning.
If you want to create a good habit, here are some steps to follow:
Decide What You Want, and Acknowledge the Benefits
Your first step is to establish that you really want the new habit in your life. Decide what you want, and then figure out why you want to develop that habit. Think about how your life would improve with the new habit, and list out all of the benefits. For instance, if you want to develop the habit of reading informative and helpful books, one of the benefits is that you learn things that could help you in your life.
Once you know why you want to develop a habit, and you have a solid understanding of the benefits involved, you will be able to look back at your list to find motivation to stick with your program.
When I started exercising again, I started small. With aerobics and strength training (which I hate), I started with 10 minutes per day. When I started swimming again, I started with 15 minutes, and worked up to more time.
This works with almost any habit, whether it’s meditation, spending less, or reading. Figure out something small and doable. Do that for a week or so. Once you are comfortable, add a little more time. Even if all you do is read for five minutes for the first week, that’s progress. Next week, you can add another five minutes, for a total of 10. When you gradually build up like this, your habit becomes a part of your lifestyle, rather than something “extra” you are trying to accomplish.
Acknowledge Your Progress
Make sure that you acknowledge your forward progress. Set milestones and have a small celebration when you reach them. Note that you have come a long way from your situation before, and be proud of your progress. Also, notice how your life has improved. Draw the comparison to your better life now, as opposed to the life before you started developing your new habit. That will help you stay focused, and keep up with the changes.
A support system can help you develop your habit as well. Your loved ones can provide you with encouragement, and you might even be able to find a buddy. My nutrition habits are improving at a much faster pace now that my husband is on board as my health buddy.
Even if you don’t have a face-to-face support system, you can improve your life. Look online for a community that can help support you. From online health communities to online book clubs, there are ways to make new friends and find a support system.
Pretty soon, you’ll have a new habit — and your life will be a little closer to your ideal.