Did you know that habits account for about forty percent of our behaviors on any given day?
Your life today is essentially the sum of all of your habits.
Are you healthy or unhealthy? This is a result of your habits.
Are you happy or unhappy with your life? This is a result of your habits.
Are you successful or unsuccessful in your career? This is a result of your habits.
Understanding how to build a new habit and how your current habits work is crucial for making progress in your health, your happiness, your satisfaction and your life.
What you repeatedly do every day ultimately will form the person you are, the things you believe and the personality you portray.
So how do you form new habit change if you want to improve?
Below is a framework that you can follow to start a new habit that you stick with to improve your health, your work and your life.
The 3R’s of Change
Every single habit you have in your life, good or bad, follows a three step pattern.
- Reminder – the trigger that initiates your behavior
- Routine – the behavior itself
- Reward – the benefit you gain from doing the behavior
These three R’s work together to bring about habit change, also referred to as a habit loop.
For example when you answer a text message:
- Your phone notification rings – this is the trigger that starts your action to tell you to look at your phone message.
- You answer the text – this is the actual action where you reply the message.
- You find out who is messaging you – this is your reward from answering your text message.
If the reward is positive, you will most likely repeat the routine again the next time it happens. By repeating the same action enough times, it will eventually become a habit.
Step 1: Set a Reminder or Trigger for Your New Habit
If you ever think by simply getting motivation and trying to remember to do a new behavior is going to help you solidify your habits, then you need to rethink your plan of attack.
Willpower and motivation will eventually fail you. It is just a fact.
This is why a trigger is such an important part of forming a new habit. A good reminder does not rely on motivation or willpower and it doesn’t require you to push through to remember to do your new habit.
For example, if you were looking to improve your health and start flossing every night, you could try to always do it after brushing your teeth.
The act of brushing your teeth is something you already do and it can act as a reminder for you to do your new habit right after.
Setting up a visible reminder and linking it to your new habit with a current behavior will help make it so much easier for you to continue. No need for motivation or willpower.
Choosing Your Triggers
The best way to find out good reminders or triggers for your new habits, is by writing out things you do every day and things that happen to you each day.
For example, for things you do every day…
- Brush teeth
- Take a shower
- Use the toilet
- Eat breakfast
You will find that many of these things are already daily habits you do and can act as reminders for new habits. So for example, after I eat breakfast every day, I will go read ten pages from my book.
In the second list, you write down things that happen to you every day…
- Receive text messages
- Receive emails
- Receive a phone call
With these two lists, you will have a range of things that are perfect reminders to help you form new habits. These small behaviors will then slowly grow into a stronger and bigger habit.
Step 2: Choose a Habit That Is Easy To Start
It is easy to get overwhelmed or caught up in all the new habits you want to form in your life. But it is important to realize that lasting change is a product of small daily habits, not a onetime change.
If you want to start a new habit, then start small. Make your new habit so easy for you to do that you can’t say no.
In the beginning, your performance doesn’t matter, what matters is that you just stick to doing your new habit.
Your focus should just be on building up your level of performance that you want once your behavior becomes consistent.
Step 3: Choose Your Reward
It is so important to celebrate your victories and new habits.
And because your actions need to be repeated many times for it to become a habit, it is important that you reward yourself each time you do a new habit.
So if you are working towards a new fitness goal to work out once a week, at the end of your workout, tell yourself, “Great progress, today was a good day!”
Don’t be afraid to talk to yourself in the mirror and give yourself credit for reaching your milestones.
Remember, as with any new habit, it will take a lot of hard work and consistency.
You might need to experiment with different triggers before you find the right one that will help you start a new habit.
You might need to up different ways to make your habit so easy to do, you can’t so no.
You may need to get used to talking positively to yourself.
But in the end, it will be all worth it. It’s all a process.
What are you thoughts on habit change? What new habit are you currently working on to form? Let me know below!