4 Steps to creating new daily habits that will set you up for success

TLDR;

For too long we were told that we need to set lofty goals to achieve success. However, there are numerous studies to prove that it’s the process of forming new habits that matter and not the goal. Form better habits and goal becomes easy.

Goal setting Vs. Forming new habits

crop unrecognizable woman writing goals for upcoming year in notepad
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It’s New Year’s Eve and you are determined to lose some weight and get fitter. You research the best gyms near you and sign up for one. The new year rolls in and you hit the gym with all your might. You start eating clean and even give a few sermons to your friends on the importance of exercising and eating healthy.

Fast forward two months and you are back to old habits. You are too tired to go to the gym or too busy at work. You give in to your cravings because YOLO…

Sounds familiar?

I bet it does.

The traditional goal-setting process is broken

The problem is that the traditional goal-setting process is broken. We set the bar too high and when we fail to even get near it, we give up.

However, in recent years there has been plenty of studies that prove that it’s the tiny habits that matter, not some lofty goals. Remember, small things add up to big things. And there lies the power of habits.

We all have times in our lives where we intentionally want to change our behavior for the better and create new habits for ourselves.

This could be getting into the habit of eating healthier and drinking more water. Or it could be moving more and going for a daily walk. Or it could be work-related, or spiritual, or…

There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits.

But getting into the habit of doing something positive is often easier said than done.

We seem to acquire bad habits without any effort but getting into a “good” habit can be a little more challenging.

But don’t worry, in this post, I am going to discuss a four-step process that will make habit-forming easy. The process will help you internalize the new behavior, and made it a true habit – something you do automatically, like tying your shoes.

There are numerous studies to prove that it’s the process of forming new habits that matter and not the goal.

Decide why you want what you want  

Decide why you want what you want
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There’s a concept called “locus of control” in psychology. The concept examines how people’s behavior determines the outcomes in their lives.

An external locus of control means that your goals are determined by external factors. For example, you want to learn guitar because you think it will make you look cool.

The problem is, if your goal setting is based on external factors, though you might achieve your goals, it will be very hard to sustain them in the long run.

On the other hand, if your goals stem from an internal drive, you’ll not only be able to achieve them but also sustain them for a longer period of time.

When you have an internal locus of control, you do stuff for yourself. For example, you want to lose weight not because you think people will say that you are fat, but because you want to have more energy and lead a healthier life.

Therefore, ask yourself first, “Why I want to do what I want to do?”

Once you have your answer focus on the process and not some big goal.

For example, say I am going to work out 15 minutes every day instead of I am going to lose 10Kgs in 3 months.

Decide what your new habit will be and commit to when and how you’re going to do it. And that’s half the battle.

Before setting any new goal, ask yourself first, “Why I want to do what I want to do?”

Create a system that reminds you of your new habits

Create a system that reminds you of your new habits
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Generally, the first few days of a new habit should be smooth sailing. You’re motivated and since you’ve set tiny goals it’s not taking too much time either.

But then one day something happens, and you slip. And then once more and the dominos start to fall. In a few weeks, you don’t even remember that you were trying to create a new habit.

Therefore, you need to create a system that reminds you about your routine.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Use a habit tracking app
  • Set up reminders in Google Calendar
  • Team up with a friend as accountability partners and remind each other
  • Scribble them down in big fonts and put the note in a place where you can see them easily
  • Use them as your password. For example, your computer password can be 1W1llw0rk0utt0day#

Despite all efforts, of course, there will be days when you’ll slip. But that’s fine.

You are a human being and not some machine. Just don’t let that drag you down. Pick up where you left and carry one.

It’s OK to fail while trying to form a new habit. Just don’t let that drag you down. Pick up where you left and carry one.

Create a ritual that prompts the new habits

Create a ritual
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Most bad habits form out of a ritual and not out of a need. For example, people smoke while taking a break, eat junk while watching a movie, and so on.

We’ll all agree that we are very good at picking up bad habits. One reason might be because it doesn’t require any mental energy to form a bad habit.

However, it takes time and mental energy before a new behavior becomes a true habit. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. Even before the new behavior becomes automatic, a routine will help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower or relying on daily reminders.

For me, going to bed on time has always been a challenge and I am someone who really needs his sleep to function.

Therefore, my routine is now to go to bed at 10:30, no matter what comes, read for some time, and fall asleep by 11.

I’m often the butt of jokes when I get up at 10 on a weekend night while hanging out with friends, but that’s a small price to pay compared to experiencing insomnia.

Most bad habits form out of a ritual and not out of a need. Inverse that to your advantage while forming new habits.

Engineer your environment in a way that supports your new habits

Engineer your environment to support better habits
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It’s easy to give in to cravings if your fridge is stuffed with junk food. Or to skip your workout if your gym is too far away or you choose a schedule that’s too tough.

Therefore, you need to engineer your environment in a way that supports your new lifestyle. Do things in a way that you need to put the least amount of mental energy to stick to a new habit.   

For example, flexibility has been an issue for me for a long time. Yoga was the obvious answer but somehow, I was not able to do it regularly.

Until the day I started laying out my Yoga mat before I go to bed.

On most of the days, when I wake up and see the mat already laid out, the choice became obvious.

I am now able to do 5-6 sessions in a week and my flexibility has improved a lot.

Do things in a way that you need to put the least amount of mental energy to stick to a new habit.

Conclusion

Want to know how to create new habits? Here’s how:

For too long we believed that we need to set lofty goals to achieve success. However, there are numerous studies to prove that it’s the process of forming new habits that matter and not the goal.

If you set your goals too high there’s a good chance that you’ll be disappointed in a few days. And you will fall back to your older ways.

Instead, invest in forming new habits. Habits that are not too difficult to perform. And you’ll not only achieve your goals but also sustain them for a longer period of time.

Let me know if you have tried forming new habits and anything you want to share from your transformation journey.  

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