We are all looking forward to changing our lives and ourselves for the better. We want to change some things in our life that we feel are not working for us.
However, before listing down the things that you want, you need to understand first how to start forming new habits and how to change or break old habits. Check out a simple guide that you can start following immediately.
For convenience, I abbreviate the first 4 steps into CURE. You can memorise these steps as CURE & REVIEW. So these are the steps to CURE you of your bad habits and create new ones.
1. Identify your CUEs.
Your daily routine consists of small habits that you do one after the other in regular succession. Identify what your current habits are so you can see where best to insert a new habit in your current routine.
Write down your whole day’s routine. Find out which of your existing habits can best serve as a CUE to remind you or trigger you to integrate a new habit and/or change the habit after it.
For example, if you want to start a flossing habit, it’s best to do it right after brushing. If you want to start a meditation habit, maybe it’s best to do so right after you wake up, before you exercise, or before your breakfast.
Pick the current habit that provides the best time and mood to add in the new habit right after.
2. UNCOMPLICATE the process.
To further reinforce the new habit that you are trying to create, make sure you make it easy on yourself to follow the new habit and/or to replace the old one.
For example, place all your flossing materials right beside your toothbrush and toothpaste so you can easily access it. To ensure silence for your meditation process, pick early morning, right after waking up when everyone else is still asleep. Or if you wake up later, then pick the time when everyone else has gone to work and/or school so you can have the house all to yourself. You can also opt to meditate when you arrive early in the office instead of immediately going out to buy coffee.
The point is to make it easier for you to integrate these new habits instead of struggling to practice them consistently. Make everything you need to do it readily available and easily accessible and work it into your daily routine little by little.
3. REPEAT until it becomes ROUTINE.
I’m sure you’ve heard somewhere that doing something consistently for at least 21 days (3 weeks) ensures that the habit sticks. This may or may not be true. However, the principle behind it is effective. In fact, why not go the whole length and practise for the whole month?
Different persons may need different lengths of time to repeat a habit until it becomes second nature to them, by which time it has already become part of their routine. The type of habit and the requirements to fulfill the activity are also major factors in how long or short the time is needed for repetition until the habit becomes a part of one’s regular activities.
What’s important is that you repeat the action required consistently until such time that it has seamlessly integrated into your daily routine. Usually, after several repetitions, people are surprised to find themselves doing the new habit automatically; they don’t even need to tell themselves to do it. They just automatically reach for the floss and do it right after brushing, for example. Or they just automatically sit down and close their eyes for meditation right after waking up.
Thus, be patient with yourself and repeat your new habit consistently until it becomes a natural part of your regular activities.
4. Remind yourself of your EXPECTATIONS with a reward.
When you successfully perform a new habit, don’t forget to acknowledge yourself for doing it. There is no need for a tangible reward for this but a verbal or mental reward to remind you of how well you are doing and why you are doing it.
Your habits should be helping you achieve a larger goal. This is a good way to maintain a positive outlook throughout the habit-formation process and constantly remind yourself of the end expectation or the result that you are expecting by forming these habits.
For example, right after you floss, tell yourself that you’ve been a good flosser today and remind yourself that as you do this you expect to maintain your healthy teeth and gums. Make sure to smile to yourself in the mirror as you think or say these things to yourself to reinforce that this habit is making you feel good and will make you feel even better as you keep doing it.
That was a lengthy explanation for what should be happening in your brain, your self-talk, as you integrate these new habits into your routine but you get the drift. So be consistent and constantly reward yourself for your efforts and reinforce your expectations with each effort.
5. REVIEW and adjust your STRATEGY.
Give yourself adequate time to integrate a new habit and lose an old one. However, if you find it difficult the first few times, make sure to review and try out new strategies. Be patient until you achieve a method or process that is successful.
Once you’ve successfully integrated a new habit; this is also a good time to review why it worked and try to apply a similar process to integrate another new habit that you want to develop.
We hope that these tips help you create new habits that better yourself and replace old habits with better ones!
While you are in the process of breaking old habits, did you know that the most successful people in the world practice the same morning habits? Learn more about the morning habits of highly successful people to inspire you to develop new, helpful habits to improve yourself.