These Are the Steps to Building a New Habit

building a new habit people writing in a journal.

They say that bad habits are hard to break, but don’t say much about what it takes to build good ones that last a lifetime. If you’re looking to get into one (or even several) positive habit(s) but aren’t sure where to begin, here are a few steps that you may find helpful in getting you started.

Implementing a Routine

Whatever habit you’ve decided to nurture, it will require that you sit down, review your daily schedule, and formulate a feasible routine for your new habit. By doing this, you’re less likely to fall prey to excuses like being unable to find the time to commit to the habit, because you’ll have already found a slot for it in your schedule.

Setting Reminders (in the Beginning)

Since it’s something you are trying to get in the habit of doing, you’ll likely need to set reminders for yourself to do so once you have a routine in mind. If, for example, you’d like to start drinking eight cups of water every day, you may want to set several daily reminders to help you follow through on the task. Stick with it, and after some time, it will become habitual, and come to you as naturally as sleeping, eating and breathing.

Developing Discipline Through Incentive

Setting a habit takes willpower and discipline. If you’d like to get into the habit of waking up at the crack of dawn every day, exercising every day, or even taking the time to call a loved one every day, consistency is key. If you have a hard time staying disciplined, incentivize your commitment to habitual behavior. If you manage to wake up at sunrise for seven days in a row (which is quite an accomplishment), on the 8th day, you’re (rightfully) entitled to a treat – perhaps your favorite pint of gelato, or even a little retail therapy.

Constantly Reminding Yourself of the Longterm

It’s easy to lose sight of why you’re embarking on a journey, and it’s usually because the future is an abstract thought. What will your habit bring in the long-term? Maybe it’s happiness, health, success, or some combination of the three – but, as we focus all our energies on simply navigating daily life, the future is difficult to envision in the present. It’s important that you constantly remind yourself why you’d like to build a good habit, and what it will mean for your overall wellbeing in the long run.

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