A habit is a behavior you do regularly. Ideally automatically.
The most powerful part of a habit is the trigger.
When x I do y.
The beginning is usually the hardest part. Overcoming the inertia of the norm.
Start eating healthier. Decide to go to the gym. Remember to compliment your spouse more. Decide to become a reader.
How can you create habits?
- Find a habit you want
Think about yourself in a year. What will you have wished you started today? Work on that habit.
Consider writing down your current habits as a good starting inventory.
Four areas to consider are your body, your mind, your relationships, and your spirit.
A habit we’ll use as an example is I want to read more.
- Identify the trigger
What will remind you to do this new habit? Find something that is easy and identifiable.
When I get in bed I will pull out my book.
Habit stacking is the concept of attaching a new habit to an existing one. Every time I finish brushing my teeth I will pick up my book. This is powerful because you are piggybacking on an existing habit (that I hope you already do).
- Figure out the smallest version of the habit
It’s easier to start a small habit than a big one. Reading 25 books is a lot for someone who doesn’t read. Even reading one book can be daunting. Reading for 5 minutes isn’t nearly as big. Putting a book on your bedside table each day is even smaller.
- Adjust your environment
Consider how everything around you helps or hinders your new habit.
For reading, think about what books you have around. Do you use technology to make it easy to read? Where do you keep your book? Do you carry it around?
If you find that reading is a challenge because you like to watch TV in bed instead of read, there are many ways you could adjust your environment. Keep the remote on the dresser instead of the bedside table. Cover the TV with a blanket except for weekends. Take the batteries out of the remote after every use. Cancel a subscription that is tough to ignore. Remove to TV from the wall and put it in storage.
- Find friends with the habit
We become like those we associate with. It’s why when a friend or family member gains weight, we are more likely to as well.
Do you know anyone who is a reader? Can you talk to them more often about reading books? Could you work on this habit with your spouse, supporting each other?
- Enjoy the habit
Reward yourself as you begin to adopt your new habit.
This could be a prize you give yourself as you accomplish it (I read every day this week, so I’ll get my favorite ice cream), recognition (post on social media when you finish and enjoy friends talking with you about the book), or find a way to visualize progress (mark the book as read in Goodreads or check off on a todo list).
Establishing new habits can be hard. Using multiple of these forces in tandem can help a new habit stick. What new habit are you going to create?