Forming good habits is difficult and even if we do, it is impossible to stick to them for long, well at least for most people.
Whether it’s eating healthy, losing weight, quit drinking most of us never really see ourselves through the finish line.
This is because forming a habit brings change to our lifestyle and any change is difficult for your body to accept at first.
So how can we form good habits and successfully make it a part of our daily life? How do we motivate ourselves each day?
This post will give you 19 best tips to form good habits and make them stick permanently in your daily routine.
19 Best Tips to Form Good Habits
Habits Loop As Explained by James Clear
Let’s first understand the science behind habit formation.
Author James Clear in his book, best-selling book Atomic Habits gives us the Habit-Loop, methodical four-step logic of how habits work.
A. The first step of habit loop is cue which is any signal triggering the brain to perform a habit.
B. Second step is craving, or reason why we perform a habit.
C. Third step is response or act of performing the habit.
D. Last step is reward or feeling of satisfaction after performing an action.
Here’s an example
Cue: You have been working for a long time, you see your phone and your brain automatically wants to grab it.
Craving: Your brain craves to see the latest Instagram updates because FOMO :).
Response: You quickly open the app and start scrolling through it.
Reward: It breaks your monotony of work and relaxes your brain.
All of us go these four stages of performing a habit and eventually forming them.
Clear says, if the reward doesn’t not match up to your expectation you might never perform or form a habit.
But if it satisfies your craving you will perform it again and again on the loop
Bad Habits Vs Good Habits
Usually bad habits don’t need any motivation because they anyways give you a high, you don’t need to put in much effort.
Like smoking or caffeine are known to relax and energize your brain.
But how do you form good habits which potentially require some discipline on your part.
Most importantly how to make it a part of your lifestyle?
Why do you want to form a particular habit?
Before starting a new habit ask yourself what you are trying to achieve? How will your life improve?
The last thing you want to do is start something impulsively and leave it midway.
Ask yourself some important questions like
- When can you begin?
- What are your monthly/weekly goals?
- Do you need to make any other changes in your daily routine?
These specific questions will give you’re your mind the purpose and stimulation it needs to get started.
Unless you give your mind very specific reasons and targets it is not motivated to work.
Start at the beginning of month/week
The start of a year, month and week signifies the beginning. So choose to begin your habit from the 1st of a month or at the start of a week.
As per a research by mid-week or month we lose some of our enthusiasm and energy levels.
Follow the 21/90 rule
Give yourself a target of performing a new habit for a period of 21 days.
In those initial days you can give yourself the space to make changes in your daily schedule; you can evaluate your results on a weekly basis.
Once you have adjusted this initial period, repeat this cycle for 90 more days.
This is because our brain registers a habit in 21 days, but it takes another 90 days approximately to make it a part of our lives.
During your 90-day period keep a track of your habits.
As it happens my free resource library has a wonderful habit tracker you can download for absolutely free.
Along with this there are other helpful resources like a mood tracker, daily and weekly planner to help you out with your plan of action when forming habits.
Start Small and Set Smaller Goals
Many people give up in frustration when forming habits as they set ambitious goals and have even bigger expectations.
Any new habit should be started gradually to give your body the necessary time to adjust to it.
For example if you start exercising to lose weight and expect to lose 10 kg or 20 pounds in a week then it will only increase your frustration.
Set small daily and weekly targets, like if you want to start reading begin reading 3 pages each day gradually increase it to 5 pages, then 10 and so on.
Motivation not enough to form good habits
To form a good habit motivation alone cannot sustain you. You have to make that habit attractive enough.
Make habit formation effortless, the first step for doing so is to start small; don’t tax your brain unnecessarily.
Finding the trigger for Bad Habit
Since every habit has a trigger you need to find yours if you want to stop a bad habit.
Recently I came across this excellent tip by author Charles Duhigg to stop a bad habit.
In his book The Power of Habit, Charles mentioned that he bought chocolate chip cookies every afternoon which led to considerable weight gain
So to stop this he stuck a post-it note on his computer which read, “NO COOKIES” but he failed in his resolution as that afternoon itself he was back to munching cookies.
Ultimately he sought to find out the trigger for his bad habit, so when he felt the urge to eat cookies he made some notes.
- Location: Sitting at desk
- Time: 3:36 pm
- Emotion: Bored
- Other People: None
- Preceding Action: Sending Email
Gradually Charles found a pattern to his bad habit.
He noted that his need to munch cookies was between “3:00 and 4:00,” pm as he was basically bored and needed a distraction.
So he replaced his bad habit by taking a quick break of 10 minutes and chatting with a friend.
He set an alarm reminder at 3.30 everyday to do this and successfully replaced his bad habit.
Replacing bad habit with good habit
Basically habits are activities that engage our mind.
So if you are trying to stop a bad habit you have to replace it with a productive activity or a good habit to fill that time void and keep your mind engaged.
James Clear in his book Atomic Habits spoke about the importance of making continuous progress when forming habits.
Clear says, “If you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty‐seven times better by the time you’re done… Habits are the compound interest of self–improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them..”
The Kaizan Technique
When speaking of small continuous improvements, I must mention the Kaizen technique.
As per this technique, you want to lose weight, start by doing 3 push-ups on Day 1.
After three days increase it to 5 push-ups after 7 days increase add a two-minute brisk walk into your workout routine.
In this way you are continuously improving, making adjustments to your habit, until you find your sweet spot.
Don’t Miss A Habit Two Days in A Row
Again this is an amazing advice by James Clear.
If you miss a habit on a given day, due to an emergency or because you are feeling lazy, make sure you perform that habit the next day.
Like suppose you are exercising sincerely every day to lose weight.
But one day you just don’t have the motivation to exercise, Clear says no problem!
Take that day off but make sure you do exercise the next day.
If you miss it twice in a row there are more chances of you being lax and ultimately giving up in future.
Supportive Habits for Primary Habit
Supportive habits are little actions you take to form a big habit.
These help in creating a supportive environment by removing temptations.
Suppose you want to eat healthy, you have to discard all templates for take-away or home delivery, remove any food item in your pantry that is unhealthy and so on.
A great way to stick to your new habit is to create challenges; these are effective in getting you all pumped up on your goals.
Get a Buddy
Get someone who can tag along with you and participate or keep you motivated enough from quitting midway
Suppose you want to wake up early, visualize any past incidences which have harmed you like sleeping late and wasting precious hours.
Now visualize yourself actually getting up early and doing your tasks like, making some coffee, meditating or putting on some running shoes.
18. Don’t be disheartened by failures
Expect some bumps along the way and take that in your stride, use it as a learning experience and inspiration.
Remind yourself at regular intervals why you started and reflect upon how far you have come.
19. Use catchphrases to counter Negativity
Use catchphrases like a chant or a affirmation to motivate yourself.
Whenever you feel negative use these catchphrases.
Try replacing your negative thoughts with the word “but”.
Like for example, “I’m no good at Maths, but, if I practice an hour each day I will get better at it.”
Final Thoughts on forming Good Habits
Habit formation becomes easy if you make the process effortless; keep small targets along with gradual improvements so that it becomes a part of your lifestyle.
Hopefully you liked this post and if you have read till here a big thank you to you.
Before leaving please don’t forget to download your habit tracker and all other planners.