HABITS – PART 1: 5 Tips For Developing Good Habits

What Are Habits?

Habits are behaviors that we perform automatically and subconsciously. Habits include the repeated thinking we automatically do, and the self-beliefs that influence what we do.  The American Journal of Psychology defines a habit as “a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.”

Research shows that 40% of our decisions are made as a direct result of our habits.  Let’s pause, and really think about this for a minute.  Almost half of the decisions we make are not conscious decisions. Knowing this, it is easy to see how establishing a strong foundation of good habits can help you take control of your life. 

Here is another food for thought:  To a large extent, your life is the sum of all your habits – good or bad.

Habits Impact on Self-Care

Developing good habits is essential for finding a balance in a world where we can be bombarded by stress.  Habits that positively impact your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well being are the keys to ensuring that you are armed with the necessary tools to fight any challenges, hardships, or even days were you’re just not feeling motivated.  Habits are more sustainable than will-power or motivation, because they are automatic, and you don’t have to battle yourself on whether to do something.

For many, stress can be a trigger that leads to unhealthy behaviors such as drinking, smoking, or overeating.  Good habits can be your armor or weapon against the negative behaviors in reaction to stress.

Below are 5 tips to develop good habits.  It takes 66 days for a habit to take root in our brains, so I would get started now!

5 Tips to Develop Good Habits

  1. Start small! That is worth repeating:  START SMALL!  Sorry for the shouty caps, but I’m feeling really compelled to drive this point home.  So often we see people who want to make a change in their lives (i.e.: lose weight), take the “all or nothing” approach.  They will implement drastic changes in their diets, like go on juice cleanses and essentially starve themselves for several days or longer.  Drastic changes like these can become so daunting and overwhelming, that most people give up after a short period of time.  The key to making these changes sustainable is incremental implementation.  Start with one small tweak in your diet, or exercise routine.  Starting small will give you a better chance of sticking to it longer, and thus developing a good habit.  A lot of people are looking for quick fixes, and that is why crash and yo-yo diets are a thing.  What is sustainable is a life-style change, and the key to a sustainable lifestyle change is to develop good habits.

  2. Love and honor who you are and your body. Shift the mindset. For example, instead of viewing exercise as punishment, view it as something you are doing out of love for your body and its health and well being.  Placing value on your health and well being will enable you to be 100% present for your loved ones.  Whether you’re trying to implement a good habit or break a bad one, the first thing you need to realize is who you’re doing this for, and why.

  3. Habit stacking is an effective method for building new habits. With habit stacking, you use existing habits or triggers (brushing your teeth for example), and pair it with a new habit you’re trying develop.  For a more in-depth look check out this excellent article https://www.developgoodhabits.com/building-habit-stacking-routine/

  4. Leave yourself reminders. Set an alarm or notification on your phone, or leave yourself notes, as reminders to get something done.

  5. Have an accountability partner. An accountability partner is someone with whom you agree to coach and encourage each other, on a regular basis.  It this scenario, you both benefit because you have someone to discuss your wins and struggles with.  This can also lead to a mutually rewarding friendship, as you both have someone to share your hopes and goals with.

Thanks for reading!  I hope you find this article beneficial.  Check back in for part 2 where I share tips on how to break bad habits.