How to Easily Create New Habits!
Habits are shortcuts for our brains and created to make repetitive tasks easier, and free up mental resources for more critical tasks.
They start as intentional actions or behaviors, that over time, become second nature as part of our daily routines.
There are some behaviors that we don’t even think about like turning off lights, locking doors, sitting in our desk chair, or putting on seatbelts. It’s so automatic because these things are deeply ingrained in our brains and performed on autopilot.
So, instead of using our brains for behaviors we do naturally without thinking, being on autopilot allows us to focus on other decisions and important choices that need our attention.
What about when it comes to creating new behaviors?
According to B.J. Fogg, author of Tiny Habits, “A behavior happens when motivation, ability, and prompt come together at the same moment”.
🎯 First, You need the initial motivation, which refers to the desire to do the behavior.
📌 Second, you must have ability to do the behavior, meaning, it’s easy and physically doable.
🎯 Third, you need a prompt, which is an existing or ‘anchor’ habit that acts as a trigger to do the behavior.
Now, let’s talk about creating new habits, which can often feel like a challenge.
Understanding the (Motivation, Ability, Prompt) behavior model opens the door to strategies like linking, which connects a new habit to an existing one (prompt).
Here are some practical examples of linking, and using what Tiny Habits refers to as ‘recipes‘.
🌸 Motivation: I want my dog’s teeth to be clean and healthy, so she can live longer.
👍 Ability: I’m able to brush her teeth
✨ Prompt: I’m brushing my own teeth
⭐ New Habit: Brush my dog’s teeth.
🌺 Recipe: After I brush my teeth, I’ll brush the dogs teeth.
🌸 Motivation: I want to feel healthy, so it’s important I take daily supplements.
👍 Ability: I’m able to swallow them.
✨ Prompt: I eat breakfast at my desk
⭐ New Habit: Take supplements, which are conveniently located in my desk drawer.
🌺 Recipe: After I eat breakfast, I’ll take my supplements.
🌸 Motivation: Feel energetic throughout the day.
👍 Ability: I can exercise.
✨ Prompt: I put on my gym clothes.
⭐ New Habit: Do 15 counter push-ups and 15 counter squats
🌺 Recipe: After I put on my gym clothes, I’ll do 15 counter pushups and squats.
After reading these, see if you can come up with some on your own.
Make Habits Easier To Do!
The harder a behavior is to do, the less likely you are to do the habit.
To feel successful, it’s best to start small to ensure that the habit is easily achievable, increasing the chances of incorporating it into your daily routine.
Let’s say you haven’t exercised in a while and you want to start getting stronger.
One thing you can do is after you get dressed in the morning, is two push-ups. This might sound ridiculous but it’s very easy to commit to. The recipe would look like this:
“After I get dressed in the morning, I’ll do two pushups”.
You would commit to only two pushups per day, which doesn’t mean you’re confined to that number. If you want to do 10, 15, or 20 some days, that’s fine. As long as you do the two pushup minimum every day, you’ll feel successful.
It’s best to start with small with ‘easy to achieve’ goals, by setting the bar low and keeping it low.
If you do more, it’s extra credit and no need to raise the bar!
Recipes vs. Stacking!
James Clear’s name for linking new habits is called ‘stacking’, which is similar to Tiny Habits ‘recipes’, however the concept of stacking involves not only links a new habit after an existing one but before as well. So you might say, “After I pour my morning coffee, I’ll write one sentence in my journal” or “Before I leave for work, I’ll do five jumping jacks.”
Here are more examples that demonstrate both concepts:
⭐ Before a morning meditation, journal for two minutes.
✨ After you wake up each morning, immediately make the bed.
⭐ Before plugging your phone into the charger, set a one minute timer to clean a counter.
✨ After retrieving mail, immediately shred, toss, file or put the mail into a small review later pile.
⭐ After removing clothes from the dryer, immediately fold them and put them away.
✨ Before watching the evening news, put dinner in the oven before it starts.
⭐ Before brushing your teeth at night, floss first.
✨ After you put something in the microwave, unload the dishwasher.
⭐ After taking the trash out, immediately replace with a new liner.
✨ After putting on PJs, lay out your clothes, food, phone, and paperwork for the next day.
⭐ After sitting on the couch each night, immediately read 2 pages in your book.
✨ After you first sit in your desk chair in the morning, meditate for 2 minutes.
⭐ After removing reading glasses, put them back where they belong.
✨ After you turn on the kitchen light, drink a cup of water.
⭐ After you open a gift, write a thank you card on the spot.
Do these things a few times and they’ll be automatically incorporated into your daily routine!
Make Habits More Convenient!
James Clear states that “The greater the obstacle—that is, the more difficult the habit—the more friction there is between you and your desired end state. This is why it is crucial to make your habits so easy that you’ll do them even when you don’t feel like it. If you can make your good habits more convenient, you’ll be more likely to follow through on them.”
Convenience, means that the new habit should be situated in close proximity to the existing habit, making it easily accessible.
For instance, if your goal is to read five pages of a book before you sleep at night, place a book on your nightstand so it’s readily accessible.
If you want to brush your dog’s teeth each morning, place your toothbrush near your dog’s toothbrush, to make it more convenient!
If you want to eat healthier, have premade snacks readily available, in the kitchen or at your desk.
By organizing your space to align with your goals, you’re setting the stage for a successful environment that nurtures habit formation.
For habits that you can’t quite figure out what to link to, it’s helpful to set reminders with Alexa or on your watch. For instance I set a reminder to give my dog meds at 9pm.
If you’re just beginning a habit it’s helpful to use sticky notes as reminders until the habit is on auto pilot.
Start Creating Habits!
As James Clear, author of the book Atomic Habits, explains “Every habit is just an obstacle to getting what you really want. Dieting is an obstacle to getting fit. Meditation is an obstacle to feeling calm. Journaling is an obstacle to thinking clearly. You don’t actually want the habit itself. What you really want is the outcome the habit delivers“.
Here’s a simple guide for creating new habits.
✅ First, make a list of every existing (anchor) habit you already have.
☑️ Second, create a list of new small habits you’d like to start.
✅ Third, in the next column, write down the outcome each of those new habits will deliver.
☑️ Fourth, identify where you could link your new chosen habits with one of your anchor habits.
✅ Fifth, write down the new pairing to connect a new habit with your existing one.
☑️ Sixth, perform the new habit.
Start with only one per week, until it becomes automatic.
Create Habits That Stick!
Automatic habits serve as anchors, and don’t require intense focus, even when we’re distracted.
It’s reassuring to know that we can rely on our automatic habits, especially when things around us feel uncertain. They’re always there for us, and can create familiarity during challenging times.
Because habits run on autopilot, we can do them without thinking, no matter what emotions arise at they create a sense of normalcy.
Steven Guise, author of the book Elastic Habits says that “Healthy habitual behaviors stabilize us in stressful times. If you don’t have a habitual base of self-supporting behaviors, what do you think happens when your world is rocked? Habits are known wins, and a distressed mind wants and needs nothing more than a known win. If you don’t have an internal foundation of good habits, then you will seek the only thing within your reach—bad habits”.
Habits create structure, give us a sense of control, and improve productivity and allow us to live more intentionally. This helps free up time to do more of the things we enjoy.
Creating sustainable small habits is key because, they create structure, give us a sense of control, improve productivity, and act as stepping stones towards our goals.
They become second nature, and you don’t need to rely on motivation to keep going.
TOPIC: How to Easily Create New Habits!
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