Forming new habits means kicking old habits and this can be a sticky area for some. The easiest part is often starting, but following through is the real test.
When you can get good at forming new habits for yourself, you are taking a leap into your own self-empowerment and this is a brilliant skill to have, especially as a business owner.
When wanting to cultivate new habits, it may seem daunting at first, but really all you need to do is start small.
In this article, I’ve put together an easy guide that provides simple steps and tips on how you can begin to form new habits today for a happy and healthy life!
8 Easy Steps To Forming New Habits
Step 1: Focus on One New Habit At A Time
This may seem like a pretty obvious one, but in the chaotic world we live in today it seems normal for people to be juggling multiple things at a time.
I don’t suggest doing this when aiming to form new habits. By spreading yourself too thin and trying to implement too many new habits at the same time you will likely find yourself unsuccessful.
The key is to focus on one new habit at a time so your energy is specifically channelled to one thing and not easily depleted.
“What one new habit do I want to form?”
You want to identify a habit that you can do all the time — on a daily basis — something that can fit into your life relatively easily even when you may not feel like it.
Step 2: Be Consistent & Commit for At Least 30 Days
So apparently the whole premise of it taking 21 days to form a habit is actually a myth.
Ultimately, the time will vary from person to person and habit to habit.
It may take one person longer than another to build a habit, and you’ll find that some habits are easier to develop while others will require more effort.
Work on an average of about 66 days to establish your new behaviour as automatic.
Commit to at least 30 days whereby during this time your whole life should be structured around a dedicated time every day to doing it consistently.
Step 3: Use An Established Habit To Anchor Your New Habit Onto
A habit should be something you can easily establish into your life.
It shouldn’t be something that requires extreme motivation or short-lived desire. Instead, it should be ingrained into your life to the point where it becomes habitual.
It’s just about being able to commit to something daily, forever.
By using the concept of the habit loop you’ll be able to form long-lasting habits.
A brilliant example of this comes from B.J. Fogg and his “Tiny Habits” concept.
He explains that what you want to do is to commit to a very small habit change and take baby steps as you build on it.
A key aspect of his teaching is to “anchor” the new habit to something you already do on a daily basis.
“After I wake up in the morning and have my morning pee, I will list 5 things I’m grateful for.”
“After brushing my teeth at night, I will spend 10min reading.”
“After I drop off the kids at school, I will go to my yoga class.”
All that’s needed is to find a habit you already consistently do and then anchor it with new behaviour.
Step 4: Take Baby Steps
When committing to forming new habits it’s important to not rely on motivation alone because the problem is that if you, then there’s no alternative for when you’re not in the mood.
The only real way to make a habit stick is by turning it into an automatic behaviour. This can be done by taking baby steps and forming a low level of commitment.
This basically means creating a micro-commitment where it’s less likely to fail. Daily consistency and not missing a day is more important than hitting a specific milestone.
By having a low level of commitment, you’ll be more likely to get started and stay on course.
Examples of micro-commitments include:
Walking for just 5 minutes a day.
Reading for just 10 minutes a day.
Drinking a cup of lemon water after you wake up.
Taking your vitamins after breakfast.
Making three calls to a prospective person or customer for your business a day.
Waking up each morning 10 minutes earlier.
When forming new habits the key is to make micro-commitments, focusing on baby steps and small wins.
These actions may seem overly simplistic but that is where the power lies!
Step 5: Be Prepared For Obstacles & Excuses
When cultivating new habits, now that there will be obstacles and you may find yourself wanting to make excuses.
When you can foresee in advance what your obstacles will likely be, you’ll then be able to prepare for how you’ll overcome them.
Examples of common obstacles:
Lack of sleep
A good way to combat an obstacle is by using “If-Then” statements.
These could look like:
“If I check the weather and it’s raining, then I will run at the gym instead.”
“If I don’t make all my calls to new prospects today, then I will make them us tomorrow.”
“If I get too busy and miss my yoga/ gym class, I will do the workout at home instead.”
Step 6: Be Accountable When Forming New Habits
Creating accountability for your habit is essential as this will help you stick with your new routine.
You can do this by tracking your actions and making public declarations about your newfound habit.
According to the lessons learned from the Hawthorne effect, you’re more likely to follow through with a commitment when you’re being observed by others.
So to help you keep up with your new routine, let others know about your efforts and goals.
You can do this by:
- Posting updates on social media accounts
- Using apps for tracking progress
- Work with an accountability partner
- Be a part of an online community related to the habit where you can post about your progress
Social approval is brilliant for holding you accountable and making sure you stay focused and consistent as you build your new habit.
Step 7: Reward Yourself
Make cultivating a new habit fun.
Build a reward system into the experience so you consciously take the time to celebrate the achievement of your goals no matter how small they may seem.
The reward can be anything you desire as long it’s something you love and within a healthy boundary.
Having a defined reward for repeatedly completing an action will undoubtedly keep you on the straight and narrow for your new routine.
Step 8: Develop a New Identity
So committing to a new habit and being consistent is only the first part.
The second and most important piece to forming a new habit is making it a part of your core identity.
It’s here where you’ll be able to do it without the need for constant reinforcement.
James Clear, the author of “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” talks about something he calls ‘Identity-Based Habits’.
He explains that in order to change your behaviour for good, you would need to start believing new things about yourself.
So instead of you just doing something habitually for the sake of wanting to do it, it’s the type of person you identify with that will complete this action daily.
Eventually, your internal identity will match this daily routine as you start forming new habits.
Tips On How To Form Healthy Habits That Stick
It Has To Be Daily – Consistency is the name of the game if you want to make a habit stick. Make sure this new habit is something you can realistically do every day. Activities that you can only do every few days are a lot harder to implement as habits.
Start Simple – Slow and steady wins the race. It can be easy to get overly excited and motivated and take on too much when forming new habits. This then results in disappointment when you’re unable to keep up. Start simply and then build on from that.
Have Reminders – When forming your new habit, it can be easy to forget. So to avoid missing a day, place reminders around your house or on your phone and laptop that will prompt you to complete your habit each day.
Have An Accountability Partner – Find someone who will either go on the journey with you or someone you can be accountable to and will keep you motivated if you ever feel like giving up.
Replace Lost Needs – If you are giving up something in your habit, make sure you are sufficiently replacing any needs lost. If sleeping later makes you think you’re more alert during the day, try taking a nap or meditating during the day to make up for it.
Be Imperfectly Perfect – Don’t expect to be perfect when you begin forming a new habit. It’s okay to have a few setbacks and start again. Focus on your intention over perfectionism.
Remove Any And All Temptation – Prepare your environment so you will be less tempted to veer off course when forming your new habit. Remove any junk food or alcohol from your house, toss out the cigarettes, prepare your workspace etc.
Find A Role Model – Spend time with people who model the habits you want to mirror. Your environment and who you surround yourself with impacts who you become.
Understand the Benefits – Get clear with what the benefits are to making this change
Know the Pain – On the opposite side to the above, you should also be aware of the consequences. Knowing what the downside would be to not following through on your new habit will give you added motivation — for example not exercising.
Do it For Yourself – You have to be forming this new habit for yourself and no one else otherwise it will never stick long term. Get very clear on your intentions around why you want to implement this new habit into your life and how it aligns with your goals.
3 Top Books On Forming New Habits
Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for how you can improve your life daily.
The author, James Clear, is one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, shares practical tactics that teach you precisely how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviours that lead to exceptional results.
In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg shares scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed.
The information is presented through engaging stories that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement.
The key thought that comes through this book is that you can achieve anything you want by first understanding how habits work.
In the book, you will discover 97 quick habits that can immediately enhance your life. You’ll also discover how to create a simple routine (managed by a checklist) that you repeat on a daily basis.
You’ll also be given a few tools that will keep you motivated and consistent. So whether you’re stressed out or not, you’ll still find the time and energy to achieve these actions on a consistent basis.
S.J Scott believes that by achieving lots of small habits on a daily basis, you’ll be able to see huge shifts in your business, strengthen your personal relationships, get organised in all areas of your life — financial, health and other.
Here’s To Forming New Habits And Kicking Old Ones
Knowing how to form new habits as a business owner is imperative. You have to get good at being able to change and implement.
Most of us are not born entrepreneurs and so we have to be able to mould ourselves by forming new habits.
I always ask myself, “what would the habits of a successful CEO be?”
Explore what habits you want to let go of and which ones you want to cultivate instead.
Align these with your values and goals in life and watch how things will shift in a big way!
I hope you found value in this guide and that it served you in some way. Please feel free to share in the comments below and ask me any questions.
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