If we are what we repeatedly do, then forming a habit should be a piece of cake, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, forming a habit is just a matter of routine or repetition, but how easy is it to form a healthy, impactful habit? Are we forming good, healthy habits? Think about your weekly or even daily schedule. Look at when you eat, what you eat, when you sleep, where you sleep, the amount of technology you consume, how much time you spend with your family, how much time you spend alone. You may notice that your routine has become a series of habits that are neither good for you, or good to you.
When we think of “good” habits, we think of things that make us happier, healthier, or just all-around more productive. How many tasks in your routine are adding anything like that, of value, to your daily life? If your answer, like a lot of us, is ‘not many’, then its time to think about how you can change those not so good habits into something that adds purpose and productivity to your life.
According to experts, it takes about 21 days to form a new habit. That’s a little less than one month, or just three weeks. If you could pick just one or two habits to develop over the few weeks, habits that will have a positive impact on your daily life, what would they be? It doesn’t have to be over the top. Actually, it’s the smallest of changes in our everyday steps that make the biggest footprints. From going to bed earlier to cutting back on the caffeine intake, or simply drinking more water and getting some exercise in, it just takes a goal, consistency, and the willpower to transform your habits and your life.
That said, if you’re looking for ways to make small changes that have big results, you might consider tackling one of the following to achieve your goals.
Identify what you want to change
Find a quiet corner, break out your favorite journal, and take time to think about the habits you’ve formed that are not adding value to your life. If it doesn’t bring you joy, if it doesn’t make you productive, if it doesn’t make you happy, it may be something that needs to change or be removed completely from your life. Seems easy enough? But the challenge is not being overwhelmed when you list it all on paper. You may have more than one habit you want to break, or change, or a completely new habit you want to form, the good news is, you can do them all. Just not at the same time.
Focus on one goal at a time
You want to make small changes to start, so find the most realistic, or the most important areas that impact your life and start there, just changing one thing will make a big impact. The best way to conquer a big task is by taking one step at a time. Start with just one goal and work step by step to form your new habit. While it might seem very difficult, focusing on one goal at a time is the most powerful way of achieving your goals. Focusing on one task at a time is more effective, and focusing on one habit at a time is more effective, so focus on achieving one of your goals at a time. When you try to take on too many goals at once, you’re spreading thin your focus and energy — the two critical components for achieving a goal. Doing so can also lead to giving up completely.
Change your way of thinking
Making real change requires action, so positive thinking just by itself won’t be successful, but when you are diligent about making change, your thoughts truly do motivate you to reach your goal. When you’ve formed a habit for so long, you can get comfortable in your routine, and it can be really hard to break out of that comfort zone. Even easier for negative thoughts to creep in. Start becoming aware of the negative self-talk and when it happens, try to change your way of thinking to something more positive. Create notes with a positive affirmation that you can post around your room, or make a list of positive or motivating thoughts you can keep in your phone or journal. Refer back to this list when you feel negative thoughts coming on.
Give yourself an incentivized timeline to stay motivated
Forming new habits won’t happen overnight. In the weeks it takes for you to get accustomed to a new habit, you need to set small milestones for yourself with rewards along the way. Setting up rewards when you reach small milestones keeps you motivated towards achieving your goals. There are a few ways you can do it. Try giving yourself a reward for the tasks you complete. For instance, if you go to bed at an earlier time, you can treat yourself to a nice breakfast the next day. The rewards don’t have to be big or lavish. They just have to be things you like or that you want to do. When you do this, you’re combining an enjoyable experience with the need to focus on a task that may otherwise be difficult to complete.
Remember, a healthy habit is anything that elevates you or moves you toward behavior patterns that positively impact your mental or physical state. Most of us are already aware there are healthier things we should be doing (and may have been asked to do), but we seem to run into trouble when it comes to putting them into practice. It’s a journey, and those who are most successful in making serious changes are also those who’ve fallen many times along the way. So don’t get discouraged if you falter. Don’t give up, because every time you fail you learn something about yourself and that experience will help you to push through next time. Start with one goal and make small, rewarding steps to make new habits towards your purposed life.
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