How to make a habit stick
The holiday season is a time when we all tend to fall into bad habits. Then the new year starts and everyone wants to create or get back to forming good habits. Knowing how to change a habit is a mystery for nearly everyone though. We’re taught that if we want to change our habits we should set goals, but that’s not enough. Goals are helpful for providing a sense of direction. However, once you’ve done that it’s much more useful to focus on the process behind the goal, habit resetting.
Establishing how you identify yourself is key. If you believe something, those beliefs can influence the next action you take. For example, if people say ‘I am a voter’ they’re more likely to show up to the polls than if they say ‘I vote.’ Once you invoke a particular identity, you’re more likely to stick to a habit in the long run.
Habit stacking involves stacking a new habit on top of a current habit. Essentially, you find a specific moment in time to layer your new habit on. For example, if you want to build a meditation habit, you might say ‘after my morning cup of coffee, I will meditate for 60 seconds’. This kind of statement gives this new behaviour a place to live in your world.
Temptation bundling means taking something you want to do and pairing it with something you should do. For example, if you want to read more but need to workout more too, listen to audio books while exercising. This pairs something you’re drawn to with something you find to be a chore.
Follow the two-minute rule
A habit is a behaviour that you, generally, perform without thinking. The two-minute rule gets you moving in the right direction. For example, you might state ‘I want to get into the habit of exercising after finishing work each week day’. Going for a jog is not something usually done on autopilot, but putting on your running shoes when you get home from work can be.
Play hide and seek
Hide the triggers for your bad habits, so you have to expend more effort to find them. For example, conceal your social media apps on your phone inside a folder you have to search for or keep you phone in another room. It’s not that the apps are impossible to get to, but you won’t be able to open them mindlessly.
Most people are told that to build better habits or break bad habits they simply need to try harder. They just need more willpower and grit. That way of thinking doesn’t work for most people as it goes against basic human behaviour. However, this strategy works with human behaviour instead.