All the behaviors that the human being acquires began with a primary action . There are no secrets in the fact that the only way there is to form new habits is with willpower and motivation for their regularity . To the question where to begin, the most satisfactory answer is at the beginning . Simple as that!
Procrastination and habits
Paradoxically, procrastination is a bad habit that prevents good habits from being superimposed or created. In fact, it is the main wall for the emergence of good habits. Therefore, it is necessary to be aware of procrastination to avoid it.
There are a thousand and one excuses to keep putting off what is consciously known to be a healthy habit, like starting a daily exercise plan. The frustration of not knowing how to start and maintain a healthy activity leads to demotivation and loss of self-confidence .
It also seems that the old habits sooner or later sabotage the new activities that are undertaken. Also, other outside factors distract them from their goals, such as a family circle or friends that are adverse to a healthy life.
For this reason, it is common for you to start something good for yourself and after a while return to your old bad habits . It would seem then that to create a new healthy habit and stop another that is not, a strong enough trigger is required.
How do you create a habit?
We have already said that it is necessary to create good habits . However, it happens that this simple statement of principles is not enough. It happens that it is mandatory to get down to work and create those habits.
How are they created? Well, it is necessary to have a good pinch of discipline . Therefore, it is necessary to follow certain guidelines. In this regard, we give our readers some indications in the paragraphs below.
General aspects to create habits
Motivation is key . For example, a smoker is warned by his GP: -If he does not stop smoking, his condition will lead to cancer. In this case, it is a matter of life and death. Smokers regularly quit when they get sick or start to feel the ravages of their habit. The habit of smoking is replaced by a less harmful one or by a healthy habit, such as going for a run.
A general rule of thumb for habit building is that motivation comes with action. If motivation is lost over time, it is because something is being done incorrectly. That is to say, each action or step taken must raise the desire to conquer that habit.
If you pay attention, the habit implies the consecration of a reward . You have to see habits like this! As a reward! It is likely that this will not be achieved because the objectives set are exaggerated, the plan is not adequate or the objective is not known exactly, among other factors.
On the other hand, we must not forget that motivation is built on the basis of needs , self-knowledge and planning; but it is only through acting that it is conquered. Motivation cannot be a simple wish: it is actually fuel to achieve goals.
Repeat an action: the way to achieve habits (good or bad)
In this sense, habits are formed from the repetition of an action . The human brain must create the appropriate neural path for the habit to be enduring. In addition, it is the way in which they stand up as a custom, which is performed unconsciously. And the most important thing is that it becomes necessary.
And for that route to be generated, as a learning process that it is, it must go through three elements , namely:
- First a trigger or stimulus (for example, an obese person will have to lose weight because the accumulation of fat in his heart puts his life at risk)
- An action (following the same example, the subject carries out a plan of physical activity and healthy diet).
- Finally, the prize or reward (the subject regains an ideal weight and health).
The satisfaction continues to lead the person to form a new lifestyle . The habit will be preserved over time automatically. The person will no longer feel lazy to carry out a training plan and eat healthily.
Basically, the repetition of an action leads to the formation of a habit. Starting new routines requires force of will, self-motivation and conscious action, until the activities become habits, that is, they take root.
Steps for acquiring a new habit
You have to have discipline, have motivation and a lot of will. However, something that helps a lot is having a plan of action . And to follow a plan, you need to know the steps to follow.
Step 1. Specify a new habit
Habits are not intellectual abstractions , they are concrete activities that deserve to be fixed in a diaphanous way. You have to put a date, amount, time, place, etc.
For example, engaging in a sporting activity in the abstract may be a general idea at first, but it is worth setting time and place: 30 minutes a day in the park. So, it is necessary to put effort so that the good idea that you have at the beginning is maintained over time.
The habit requires motivation so it must be defined for what? For example: a yoga plan helps better muscle flexing and stress management. The reward will be able to contact you in your daily performance, which will stimulate you to continue.
Step 2. Build a plan
The best plan is the one that is carried out . That is, to create a habit it is essential to put it on the daily agenda as a priority. If you don’t, there will always be something else more important to do, surely another not-so-favorable habit. Professional work takes time, but it’s not the only thing that takes time.
You will have to put memos on your cell phone, on the refrigerator, in the bathroom, etc., but the important thing is that the plan is fulfilled.
Plans are sometimes sabotaged by factors they don’t control . A downpour, for example, is something unexpected. To do this, you must create plan B. If due to force majeure your activity cannot be carried out in the designated place and under the conditions you would like, you must be able to adapt to the contingency.
The important thing is that plan B is an effective solution . Building a plan also means having everything you need on hand.
Step 3. Repetition leads to habit formation
Experts say that the habit is created after a little more than two months of doing the activity. Staying consistent tends to be the hardest part. It will take motivation and willpower at the beginning, then you will see how the need comes on its own, without major inconveniences.
Be that as it may, the systematicity cannot be broken , so, if necessary, you will have to resort to plan B or C. It may be the case that your life takes an unexpected turn; for example, a change of residence. In that case, you will have to think of another alternative, which will lead you to the same purpose.
Step 4. Recognize the habit every thirty days
If after two and a half months it is still difficult for you to remember that you must carry out the activity you want to make a habit, it means that something is not as expected. The reward or the desired result has become elusive. This is a delicate point, where the person must show his willpower.
You will have to consider alternatives until you find the path that best suits your personality . If the habit is in place instead, it is time to step forward in the same habit or plan another.
Step 5. Encouragement and Rewards
Sometimes it turns out that the reward you wanted to get is more than enough to keep the harmonious circle of habit.
On the other hand, in other cases, it will be necessary to seek or recognize other exogenous rewards. For example, an obese person regains his ideal weight and realizes that he can move more easily; then your initial willingness to be of adequate weight is doubly reinforced.
How do you change a habit?
Bad habits are those that you regularly want to change. The problem is that the human brain retains normal structures even if they are harmful to the same organism. In all habits, good or not, there is a reward. Hence the difficulty in isolating and replacing them.
The important thing to change a harmful habit is to have a strategy and appeal to effort and perseverance. Indeed, three levels must be addressed: cognitive, emotional and behavioral.
Steps for acquiring a new habit
We have to make a detailed description of this issue. Systematically indicate how to change a habit that is not good. In this regard, we indicate the following list of steps.
● Step 1. Look in a mirror
The mirror reflects physical things , but it cannot reflect the interior of the human. The first thing then, what he should do is a visualization – mirror type – of himself; but this mirror will be a kind of pre-observation of your mental and physical state.
The resistance to change must be charged in case for healthy activities. It is the awareness of changing a bad habit, because if you don’t, there will be serious consequences. This is even more complex with a long-lasting habit.
● Step 2. Observation
After the previous step comes the observation. It is a stadium that can last a long time, even a lifetime. But, it represents the awareness that you have a negative behavior or habit and, if you do not alter it, it will continue to reduce your life in one way or another. It is then up to you to make the appropriate changes.
In addition, the observation can coincide with the taking of the first actions, but also of the first frustrations for not being constant. But, the awareness of change is clear, the proper motivation and plan to change are lacking.
This observation makes it possible to inspect progress. Also, realize if it is necessary to change the plan. The plan must be flexible, this is something important!
● Step 3. Exploration
It is the stage of concrete efforts . Trial and error, attempts that do not work, beginnings that remain halfway but are resumed later.
This exploration allows us to recognize the difficulties to establish a new habit . But, without a doubt, it is a learning stage that is important.
This we just said is important: gaining a new habit is also a learning process . And perhaps the best thing is that it is about self-learning: recognizing strengths and weaknesses.
● Step 4. Maturation
It corresponds to the stage of maturation of a system . Continuity is achieved, based on the experience acquired.
At this point, a strategy is developed that leads to the goal. Also, the person comes to the support of his environment, specialists, who end up giving him the tools he required to maintain consistency. The first positive and verifiable changes occur.
Skipping the previous stages leads to frustration , it is not possible to start a routine if you do not believe in the objectives or are not aware of their importance.
One of the mistakes to change or have habits is wanting immediate results , avoiding the steps to achieve the necessary results. Discipline is important at this point. Simple as that!
● Step 5. Sustain
Every habit, once established , requires feeding it . And it is nothing other than keeping it and making it part of a lifestyle. Habits do not get in the way, they are not sacrifices, they are not burdens, they are not obligations… Self-confidence is strengthened by each healthy habit you acquire.
The scaling habits good is the right strategy to preserve them . For example, if you achieve the ideal weight with a balanced diet, it would be better if the new habit to conquer is to become a popular runner or to follow an exercise plan aimed at improving your metabolism.
It remains to insist on something: once you have a habit, you have to cultivate it . It cannot be abandoned, because it can be lost and in its place a harmful habit is reborn. This is something to avoid at all costs!
● Step 6. Declination
If, despite all that has been achieved with your new healthy habit, you enter a stage of relapse , you should bear in mind that you will never return to zero point.
In this case, go back to the plan and examine what it is that changed your life and caused you to break out of your cherished routine, so as not to fall back into apathy. This cycle is normal , it should not cause concern. The important thing is to know that having a habit is constant. Once you have it, you have to take care to preserve it.
Final thoughts on this topic
Habits are very important. It is the way in which people manage to function in certain areas without major problems. You have to consider that successful people always have good habits.
In any case, this post shows a lot of content about it. Perhaps one of the core issues is that we are rarely aware of the habits we have. Therefore, a first task is to take an inventory of personal habits.
Of course, it is mandatory that the inventory recognizes the positive and negative ones.
Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.