4 Easy Ways to Create Good Habits

“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”

― Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit

 

4 Easy Ways to Create Good Habits

I’ve talked about this before, but for me, the way to achieve success and get your goal isn’t to do with what you might think. It has nothing to do with willpower, determination or how many degrees you’ve got. It’s actually got nothing to do with talent. It is about the daily discipline of habits.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “God, that’s boring,” but the simple truth is habits are what gets you success.  So, I’m going to teach you four simple and easy ways to start creating good habits.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg 

I’ve done a lot of reading in this area because I’m so passionate about this, and one of my absolute all-time favourite books is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  What I love about Duhigg’s book, is that he goes into real detail about HOW a habit works. In a nutshell, the way it works is that there’s a cue, a routine and a reward.

 

Alice Dartnell Life Success Coach Birthday Book Giveway September 19 - The Power of Habits” by Charles Duhigg #bookgiveaway

Power of Habits” by Charles Duhigg

How to Switch to Better Habits

In order to switch up your habits you don’t just take them away, but you replace them so that you’ve still got the cue. You implement a new routine and get a (new) reward. For example, a lot of people, myself included, can be a bit of a stress eater.  So, your cue might be stress. Something difficult has happened, so your routine is, “Oh well, I’ve had a difficult day at work, so I deserve that mammoth chocolate bar (routine) and then the reward is instant gratification.  

So, the next time a stressful situation occurs, the routine is going to kick in, and this is often automatic because you have had the same response to your cue (=stressful situation) over and over again. This is habit. 

The way to implement good habits is to switch out that routine and put something that’s going to be more beneficial for you. For example, now when I’ve had a stressful day, I find going to the gym is a better routine for me because I still get that reward of, “Ahhhhh!” having that gratification at the end.  So, it’s about switching out the routine.

 

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My habit of exercise 4 times a week happens because I block out the time in my diary first

Top Tips to Create Good Habits

Sorry for the bad news. Creating good habits is easier said than done because as Charles Duhigg says in his book, The Power of Habit, there are unfortunately no specific set of steps that are going to help everybody. 

However, some good news. I’m going to share with you my four easy ways to implement good habits have worked for me. Whether your goals are health related or professional, personal or relationship focused, these will help. Remember, it’s the simple little daily acts that will help you rather than big grand gestures.

Habit tip 1 : Have reminders

Habit tip number one is all about  having reminders. When we’re trying to implement something new, we need to remind ourselves of it to help us get to that stage of doing it so often that it becomes a habit.

As Gretchen Rubin explained in her Psychology Today Web Site article, Stop Expecting to Change Your Habit in 21 Days, 21 days isn’t nearly long enough to form a good habit. According to a recent study, it takes an average of 66 days to for a new behaviour to become a habit.

And I don’t mean just mentally reminding yourself, but also visually reminding yourself too.  

I was chatting to a client once who just casually mentioned the fact that she always forgot to take her tablets and vitamins in the morning, and I asked her where they were.  She said, “they’re in my bathroom cabinet.” I asked, “How often do you go into that cabinet?” “Never really”, she said. Well, there’s the problem!

You’re not seeing the vitamins; you’re not remembering to take them. You don’t take them every day consistently for 20 plus days, it’s not going to become a habit.  

What did I do to implement that as a habit for me?  I’ve put them by my kettle. Every morning when I go downstairs, I make myself a cup of green tea, my vitamins are there.  I don’t need to remember to take my vitamins, they’re visually there.

Now, there will become a point where something does become so ingrained you don’t need to remind yourself anymore, so use that visual cue for something else, but whilst you’re trying to implement a habit you need a visual reminder.

Alice reading the The Power of Habits” by Charles Duhigg

Habit tip 2 : Create Good Habit Tracking

How are you going to remember and record the fact that you were on track to implementing that habit? This tip is about developing good habit tracking. Again, it’s not going to happen overnight and will take anywhere from 20 to 66 days.  

The key is to visibly track your habits. Don’t just have it stored in your head, because either:

  1. you’re going to give yourself more credit than you deserve, or
  2. you’re not going to remember how many days you’ve missed.  

You can use an app, like My Fitness Pal to track calories, water intake or your exercise. Your Fitbit can be used to track your steps and your sleep. You can also use  good old fashioned pen and paper!  That works as well. It doesn’t have to be fancy; you just need to track whatever it is you’re aiming for.

My mother is Japanese and last year I enjoyed a fantastic adventure visiting my family in Japan. Now I’ve upped my Japanese self-study to 40 minutes a day. I track that, because even if I don’t quite make my 40 minutes a day, which at the moment is not really happening, at least I know and I’m tracking how many minutes I’m doing a day, and this is now making it a daily habit for me.

Remember to make sure you make habit tracking one of your non-negotiables when you do your weekly time management planning.

 

Alice Dartnell Life Success Coach  London England learning Japansese in the morning while earl grey tea drinking tea

My habit to learn Japanese is to do it over breakfast or read flashcards every time I’m in line waiting in a queue.

Habit tip 3 : Identify what has stopped you in the past

Another way to create good habits is to identify what has stopped you in the past. We repeatedly make the same mistakes again and again, and then we just get more frustrated with ourselves because we can’t understand why we’re not reaching our goal, even though we keep trying and trying and trying. The reason we keep making the same mistakes is because we’re not understanding what has stopped us in the past.

Take time to identify what was stopping you reaching that goal in the past so you can use it to form a good habit now. My 1-2-1 clients and other people at my workshops tell me tell me how they don’t have enough time to exercise and think that it is always other’s “extreme self-discipline” that gets people to go to the gym. No! It’s not!  It’s because people who do go to the gym have short-circuiting their habit-loop, overcome bad habits and made going to the gym one of their positive habits!  

So, try to think what has stopped you from creating good habits in the past.  

 

Alice Dartnell Life Success Coach visits Peru

Trekking along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu helped me identify many of the things that had stopping me achieving goals in the past!

Habit tip 4 : See your habit as a choice

Finally, number 4. Start seeing it as a choice. So many times, I talk to 1-2-1 and other clients and heard them using language like ‘must’ and ‘should’ and ‘have to’. The problem is if you use that negative language then you hand away responsibility and control. 

Where is your sense of desire and control to create that good habit? Start to put the choice back into it. See it as your choice. It’s not something you have to do. You want to do this.

Your attitude determines how you approach life and other people. As a result, your attitude will determine your success or failure. No one’s holding a gun to your head (well hopefully not!) when you are making that choice. So, whatever that good habit you want to implement is, whether it is going to bed early, getting up early, exercising, being more patient, working on your drawings, or speaking up at work, you have to see it as a choice that you have control over and you have decided to make.

 

 

Meal prepping is a habit I’ve adopted to save time and money. But the added benefit is that I tend to eat much healthier

Conclusion

So, there you have it!  Four easy ways to start creating good habits.

Remember, it is always good positive habits that are going to get you success and move you towards your goal not willpower or education or anything like that. It simply is just good daily habits.

Further Reading

Work towards you goals in easy bit by bit using the compound-effect of the  Law of the Slight Edge. In a nutshell, the Slight Edge is the law that everything adds up bit by bit. The actions we take will move us either towards our goals or away from them.  Learn more about the Law of the Slight Edge in my ground-breaking article Using the Slight Edge to Achieve Your Goals.

You can find out more about creating good habits in my popular blog article, Why Creating Good Habits are the Real Secret to Success. In it, I discuss author Charles Duhigg’s bookThe Power Of Habit and explore why good habits are so important to achieving your goals.

Like to Know More?

If this has resonated with you, I would love to hear from you! Get in touch to share your aha moments or what you have answered in the reflection exercises.

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This article is written by Alice Dartnell, life and success coach of Alice Dartnell Limited. Alice empowers busy professionals to be successful, transform their lives and achieve more by improving their confidence, mindset and time management.

For more information please see www.alicedartnell.com.

Copyright 2020 Alice Dartnell Limited

 

Disclaimer 

This blog is published solely for educational and entertainment purposes. The author and publisher are not offering it as legal, accounting, health care or other professional services advice. While best efforts have been used in preparing this blog, the author and publisher make no representations or warranties of any kind and assume no liabilities of any kind with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents. Neither the author nor the publisher shall be held liable or responsible to any person or entity with respect to any loss or incidental or consequential damages caused, or alleged to have been caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained herein. Every person and company are different, and the advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. Alice Dartnell or Alice Dartnell Limited is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised in this blog. You should seek the services of a competent professional as appropriate. You are responsible for your own choices, actions, and results. Always consult your own General Practitioner if you’re in any way concerned about your health.