How many times has it happened that you thought of form a new habit and it hardly lasted beyond the initial burst of enthusiasm? If you say a lot many times, then you are at the right place. Everyone struggles with habit formation, be it something as simple as keeping a diary or as complex as a lifestyle change.
How to Form A New Habit?
To know how to form a habit more successfully, you need to know what exactly happens when you are forming a habit. There are neuronal networks in the brain that light up when you do something. The more the activity is done, the easier it becomes for these neurons to light up, so much so that we can even function on ‘autopilot’ mode at times. This is the greatest reason behind why it’s difficult to undo old habits, and learn new things successfully. To activate other neuronal networks and to resist the temptation to use the old pathways is about discomfort and cognitive hard work. That’s where motivation kicks in and keeps you at it.
Therefore, the key to successfully forming a habit is to make it easy to do, which reinforces the initial motivation you had when you started it. Try some of the tips below in order to work on it:
Psychological research suggests that doing an activity continuously for 21 days makes it very likely for it to become a permanent behaviour. The neuronal connections we spoke of above take this long to diminish and form again. So for the first 21 days, and more also if possible, write daily or keep a check-off list on what all you did. That is, break the habits into parts and check off parts you achieved. Example, walked to the gym and did 15 minutes of cardio is also a good first step. If you rate yourself only on the final behaviour ‘worked out all 5 days’ then there is no appreciation for the micro-steps and thus the motivation goes down.
Plan for roadblocks
Sit and chart out what factors are likely to prevent you from attaining the behaviour. Put in steps in advance to counter them. For example, if you plan to exercise in the evening but fatigue does not allow then do 5 minute workouts throughout the day. Alternatively, you can also take a nap and then exercise in the evening. Early morning workout is also an alternative. SO you need to literally sit and decide.
As time goes, we start beating ourselves up for not following through. Instead, the energy should be diverted to telling you why the new behaviour is important. Write down or talk to yourselves about the goals this habit will achieve. Research show that brain reacts very positively when goals are written and they are read out as achieved.
Reward yourself for whatever you achieve. This works as a good booster to start trying the new habit again in case the motivation had dropped.
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