Becoming the best version of ourselves starts with developing healthy habits that stick. So how do we unlearn our old, unhealthy habits and start living our best lives? It starts with making small changes that add up to BIG results! Read on to learn more about how we create habits, how we can change them, and how to stick to new ones in 2023.
What Is a Habit & How Do We Create New Ones?
Habits are behavior patterns that form due to actions repeated over time. These actions become part of our daily life; so much so that we're no longer actively aware of doing them. Our habits consist of our daily routine, like when we go to bed or start our morning. A ritualistic pattern of behavior emerges as a result. Learning how habits develop and how we can create new ones empowers us to live our life to our true potential.
Research suggests that there are several approaches to creating new habits. The first involves introducing a cue or trigger to alert yourself that it’s time to do a certain activity. The cue could be something like going to a certain place (the park when you want to jog), hearing a certain sound (like an alarm when it’s time to get up), or a visual prompt like a motivational poster. The second approach focuses on creating new habits by stacking them onto our existing habits. The last approach aims to eliminate old habits by replacing them entirely with something new.
Why is Developing New Habits so Hard?
It can be hard to incorporate a new habit into the daily routine. More often than not, we relapse before the habit is formed, which puts us back to square one. This happens because we lack insight into how habits actually form. Or how long it takes to develop them. Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure by starting too many new habits at a time. The key lies in going easy on yourself and taking baby steps.
How to Eliminate Old Unhealthy Habits
To get rid of those old, unhealthy habits, it's best to avoid the things that trigger them. For instance, if you can’t seem to open your phone without scrolling through social media, uninstall the app or move it off your home screen so it’s not the first thing you see when you unlock your phone.
Another way to eliminate unhealthy habits is to replace them with new ones instead of simply trying to cut them out of your life. For example, if you smoke cigarettes and reach for them when you get stressed, replace the habit of smoking with something healthier that will help you deal with the stress (instead of causing you more). You can also try replacing the act of smoking with the act of chewing gum so that your mind has an activity to focus on rather than just focusing on the fact you aren’t smoking.
Creating Healthier New Habits
Make It Easy on Yourself
Set yourself up for success by planning ahead. Get rid of the things that will make it easy for you to continue your current habits, and change up your environment or routine to avoid triggers. Once you’ve decided to form a habit, a supportive group of people can make it easier to stick with it. Habit stacking is also an easy way to slowly incorporate new habits into your life. For example, if you have coffee every morning, you can try “stacking” a new habit by taking a vitamin right afterward. The new habit becomes ingrained, as we make it part of our daily routine.
Make it Specific
Break down the habit into specific actions to make it easier to perform. For example, if you want to lose weight with exercise, start with 10 pushups and increase them over time. Having a specific goal you can visualize and work towards is good motivation, and having a specific plan in which to achieve that goal helps you stay on track.
Rewarding yourself is another great way to keep yourself on track and motivated. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, and don’t forget to give yourself grace if you slip up.
Giving up on bad habits and developing healthier ones doesn’t have to be hard.
You just need to practice some proven habit-forming techniques and be persistent with them. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip, just remember that consistency is the most important thing and that it takes time and effort to make a change.
Looking forward to a year full of healthy habits in 2023!