Creating new habits can be hard. Breaking old habits can be even harder. Both are required for growth and healthy living. When taking the time to learn something new in your life, most often it can feel gratifying to reach a significant goal. Besides the benefit of learning something new, you have also improved yourself for the better. Most of these positive improvements can be developed into good habits. This is even backed up by a few studies I have read recently. It is suggested that by forming good habits, the goals are more attainable. And more importantly, we are not motivated enough by just focusing on the goal itself. Our day-to-day activity and progress with our habits give us motivation to stay on track. In one of the studies, it even stated that reflecting on the habits we have formed can help us progress with our goal and adjust when needed, therefore being more successful in the end result.
After thinking about these statements, I did a little research about how people feel about their habits. I even found a list of the most sought-after habits. The most desired habit? Better health. This included exercising consistently, eating more fruits and vegetables, having breakfast, getting an adequate amount of sleep, and even the act of flossing. The list continued with reading more often and concluded with saving money. But choosing good habits and actually forming them is a different story.
When developing good habits, there are a few crucial strategies that come to mind for me. Besides the need to clearly define the desired habit, visualization helps significantly. Professional athletes are known to use this influential skill often. Take the desired habit of better health, for example… this person would picture themselves as a healthy human being and visualize eating the foods that would make them healthy. These thoughts mentally prepare the mind for the desired outcome. The act of repetition is the most important factor of developing a habit. It is a common understanding that it takes 30 days to form a good habit. If you slip up on the fourth day, it does not mean you should quit altogether – it only means you start over on day one. Taking it a day at a time proves successful in the long run. And last, breaking down the goal and starting slow can sometimes help with forming long-term habits. Say I want to commit to getting in shape. I would not run full force at the gym and work out every day for two hours. Instead, I would start small and begin my trips twice a week for half an hour. After my habit begins to develop, I would amp it up to an hour workout each visit. Before I know it, I will be establishing the positive habit of going to the gym to keep fit.
Make positive affirmations regarding the goals set before you. I commit my goals in writing. If I write down my desired habit, not only will it force me to clarify what I want, but it will motivate me to take action and begin execution. When writing my goal, I go to the extent of listing the reasons why I want it and explaining the benefits of having the habit – it takes my mind a step further and mentally commits to the goal. Good luck on your goals!
Amanda Strunk Miller