Do You Want to Establish a New Habit?

Are you struggling to maintain a daily exercise routine recommended by your doctor? Has your ophthalmologist advised you to use a warm compress for your dry eyes every day, but you find it challenging to stick to the regimen? You understand the benefits of consistently following these routines, yet you can’t seem to make yourself do the right things.Β 

You’re not alone! Developing long-lasting habits is difficult.

The main reason we fail is that we rely on our willpower to build positive habits. However, habit formation experts know better ways to hack your brain and develop good habits.

Here are 10 tips that I’ve gathered from notable habit-making books, including:

βœ… Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg

βœ… Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick by Wendy Wood

βœ… The Power of Habits: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Tiny Habits By B J Fogg, Phd
Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood
Front cover of the book, "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business"

πŸ’ͺ1. Don’t Rely on Your Willpower

When trying to develop a good habit, many people depend on their willpower. Observing those who exercise daily, you might assume they are incredibly self-disciplined. However, this isn’t always the case.

As you know from experience, maintaining high motivation over an extended period is challenging. Many people make New Year’s resolutions to get healthy, causing gyms to be packed in January. By February, gym attendance drops dramatically.

Throughout a day, your motivation levels can fluctuate significantly. Mornings usually bring higher motivation than evenings. That’s why many people with daily exercise routines work out first thing in the morning.

Counting on high motivation and willpower often doesn’t result in successful habit formation.


πŸ€” 2. Make a Conscious Decision

Habits are behaviors that you intentionally choose at a certain point in your life. Repeating these behaviors turns them into habits.

They don’t appear in your life out of nowhere.

To develop a good habit, you must first decide to incorporate the behavior into your life.


🐣 3. Start Small and Easy

The key to developing habits is to begin with easy, small behaviors. This way, you can repeat the behavior even when motivation is low. Repetition is crucial for habit formation.

For example, if you want to run 2 miles a day but have never run before, start by walking 0.5 miles a day or whatever you can do with minimal effort.



🀚4. Reduce Friction

Some habits are challenging to build, even if the behavior seems easy.

I tried to build a habit of using a warm compress on my eyes to alleviate dry eye symptoms. Despite the simplicity of the task, I couldn’t do it daily.

After analyzing the steps required, I placed an old microwave upstairs next to my shower. Now, I do the warm compress before showering.

Previously, I had to go downstairs to the kitchen to use the microwave. This added friction made it difficult to turn the behavior into a habit.



πŸšͺ 5. Build on Existing Habits

BJ Fogg calls this an “anchor,” and Wendy Wood refers to it as a “piggyback” system.

Use an existing behavior as a cue for a new one. For example, after making your bed, you could do shoulder exercises alongside it.



πŸ“ 6. Be Specific

Using an existing habit as a cue helps you determine when to perform the new behavior.

In the past, when trying to make shoulder exercises a habit, I would tell myself, “I’ll do it later,” but that rarely happened. Now, I do the exercises immediately after making the bed without giving myself time to think or wonder. It becomes automatic.

Know how, when, and where you will perform the behavior in advance.



🍳 7. Set Up Your “Mise en Place”

“Mise en place” is a French culinary term meaning “everything in its place.”

Before starting to cook, chefs prepare and organize all their ingredients and tools, leaving little room for failure.

Similarly, you can set up your environment for success. Some people place their sneakers next to their bed, making it easier to get started on their morning run. Wendy Wood, when building her running habit, even slept in her workout clothes. By taking these small steps to ensure everything is in its place, you can create a seamless transition into your daily routines and set yourself up for success.


πŸŽ‰ 8. Make It Fun

When a behavior is enjoyable, it’s easy to repeat.

Not all behaviors you want to develop will be inherently fun. However, you can add enjoyment to otherwise mundane tasks. For example, consider allowing yourself to listen to your favorite audiobooks while exercising on an elliptical machine. By incorporating elements of fun into your routines, you increase the likelihood of maintaining your desired habits.


🎊 9. Celebrate and Feel Good

When building a habit, it’s crucial to celebrate each time you perform the behavior. You can decide how you celebrate.

Feeling good and successful releases dopamine, which controls the brain’s reward system. This helps you remember which behavior made you feel good, so you’ll likely repeat it.



🐒 10. Take It Slow

By repeating the same sequence, the behavior becomes easier. Then, you can gradually increase the challenge of the activity.

But make sure not to increase the difficulty prematurely.

Changes in our lives may force us to reevaluate our existing habits. We are all experiencing a disruption due to COVID-19. Maybe it’s a good time to develop new habits, so we can be proud of the positive habits we’ve formed when the pandemic is over.


πŸš€ Take Action Now!

Think of one small habit you want to develop. Pick strategies to make it a long-lasting habit.