Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Haider Al-Mosawi from Personal Growth Map.
Forming new habits is often seen as a huge commitment that only a few fortunate souls – blessed with a naturally high dosage of willpower – can ever accomplish. The rest of us can only content ourselves with silly attempts to change, only to default to our old ways.
But the problem isn’t really with forming new habits. It’s our approach to forming new habits that makes life difficult.
To make your life much easier, here are two simple ways you can use to form new habits that will help you get great results without really trying!
The most common approach to forming a new habit is to attempt to create it with a single leap from your old way to the new way, without any transition period. You smoke and you want to quit smoking. You drink coffee and you want to cut it out of your diet. You don’t exercise and want to join the gym to exercise on a daily basis. To achieve your goals, you rely on commitment and willpower.
But as you have experienced time and time again, your willpower will dwindle a few weeks down the road (if you survive that long) and drag your commitment down with it, leaving you with your old ways… if not worse!
That’s because to go from one way to a totally new way is unnatural. It comes as a shock to your mind, body and soul and they will fight fiercely to return to a way that is familiar to them.
What’s the solution, I hear you ask?
Well, that’s a good question, and I’m glad you asked it :)
A solution I would recommend would be to go for half habits.
What does that mean?
Rather than trying to commit FULLY to a new habit, you simply take a step in its direction.
For example, instead of immediately joining a gym in order to become healthy, if your body has almost forgotten what “physical activity” means, incorporate a mini-exercise routine at home. That way, you don’t feel guilty that you’re not going to the gym every day, and you’re not taking something on that will be met with resistance. It’s a small adjustment that you won’t have difficulty keeping up.
An advantage to half habits is that you accept that you need to go through a transition period from old habit to new habit. You accept this as something natural and not a failing on your part.
Your focus then turns to the progress that you are making instead of the times you fall off the wagon!
“Oh great! I exercised four times this week!” instead of “OH MY GOD! I haven’t exercised for THREE days this week!”
And with half habits, you can effectively take on a number of habits without feeling any pressure!
I managed to cut down on coffee and soft drinks, started blogging almost daily, reduced the amount of food I eat, began waking up early in the morning and developed a range of other mini-habits that have popped up here and there without me making any serious attempt to form them. The last time I drank a soft drink I actually felt disgusted because I didn’t enjoy the taste (my preference is moving towards drinking water). I didn’t force myself to stop drinking soft drinks. I simply said to myself: I would like to start drinking more water and removing soft drinks from my diet. And I went in that direction with the acceptance that I might be having a soft drink occasionally.
Another great advantage to half habits is that some habits help reinforce each other!
Cutting down on coffee helps you get more quality sleep, which helps make it easier to wake up early, which gives you more time to do quality work, etc.
You transition towards new habits without feeling burdened by unrealistic commitments and can enjoy making progress in your life.
And what’s the other way you can form habits easily…?
One of the major obstacles we face in trying to adopt new habits into our lives is simply that we don’t have the time to do so!
If you want to start exercising, you need to fit exercise sessions into your schedule. But that involves some planning, and you might already have too many commitments that stop you from squeezing in exercise into your busy week.
But that doesn’t mean you cannot develop new and positive habits!
Not having the time is no reason to remain stagnant. There are many small adjustments and changes we can do here and there that require no extra time whatsoever!
Do you need any extra time to replace coffee with green tea, or soft drinks with water?
Do you need any extra time to sprinkle your day with a few more smiles?
There are SO many ways we can move forward in life without needing to make any hefty time commitments, and these changes will help us realize how easy it is to form new habits and will also lead us to enjoy the many benefits these habits can bring to our lives!
Give these two ways a try, and find out how easy it is to form new habits and move your life forward!
The Golden Nuggets From This Article
To make the application of the lessons in this post easier to apply, here’s a summary of the key points mentioned, split between Theory (the ideas you should bear in mind) and Practice (what you need to do to make use of what you just read)
- Forming new habits isn’t hard, nor does it require a lot of willpower. The problem is with our approach to habit-formation
- There are two simple ways to habit-formation that makes it easy to accomplish: 1) Half Habits 2) Timeless Habits
- Half Habits: Rather than aim to form a new habit fully, aim to make progress in the direction of the new habit. You will gradually re-adjust, and the approach is much more natural than expecting to form a new habit with a single leap
- Timeless Habits: There are many, many habits we can develop that require absolutely no time commitment. Replacing coffee with green tea, or soft drinks with water doesn’t take any extra time to do but can bring about great benefits into our lives
- Half Habits: For all the habits you intend on adopting, instead of focusing on the destination (forming the new habit fully), think of the next step you can take in the direction of these habits and make a slight adjustment to adopting these habits
- Timeless Habits: Come up with ways you can make simple changes to what you eat, how you behave, etc. that can bring about positive results in your life, without needing to free up any time on your schedule to form these new habits
To read more from Haider Al-Mosawi, check out his blog: Personal Growth Map.
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