Behind any motivation there must be a method. We explain it here.
Everyone has dreams that they wish would one day come true. Learning a new language, staying in shape, finishing a career and more can be goals we want to achieve, but these will never materialize without good habits.
Habits are behaviors that are performed every day, automatically and effortlessly. If they form habits that are related to what they want to achieve, the process that will bring us closer to our dream becomes increasingly easier, flowing by itself.
However, habits are not something that happens overnight. For this, it is necessary to be focused on its achievement, dedicating both physical and mental effort.
- It may interest you: “Toxic habits: 10 behaviors that consume your energy”
In this article we are going to talk about how habits are created, indicating a series of guidelines that can help in their achievement and, in addition, a series of aspects to take into account when deciding to introduce one of them in daily life.
The habit and its aspects to take into account
As we were already commenting, habits are behaviors that are done automatically every day. When an action has become something everyday, which is done every day, it becomes a habit and is done almost without thinking. This type of pattern, once established, implies a lower consumption of energy, both physically and mentally.
However, habits only become present in people’s daily lives after having overcome a process in which they have been integrated into everyday life. Trying to make something new become our daily bread is something that certainly implies greater concentration, being aware of what is done and how it is done, in addition to not losing the objective for which it is done.
It is very comfortable to fantasize about achieving a long-awaited dream. What is not so comfortable is having to get excited every day to the activities that are related to the goal you want to achieve, whether they require mental or physical resources.
It must be borne in mind that the habit formation process is not something concrete and fixed, that is, not all habits settle with the same ease nor do they take the same time to become something everyday. This process can vary depending on several aspects:
The starting point where the person is.
- Physical and intellectual abilities
- Personality traits
- Other established habits that may interfere with the habit to incorporate
Furthermore, the speed with which the habit settles depends both on the objective and the difficulty of the habit itself to be incorporated. For example, it is not the same to try to get to walk for half an hour each day than to lift weights for, also, half an hour daily. The physical and mental effort is much greater in the second case and the desire to do so may be less.
The statement has become quite famous that it only takes about 21 days to get a habit into people’s day-to-day lives, or what is the same, 3 weeks. This statement, in addition to being very risky, has been clearly false for those habits that are more complex.
Several investigations have tried to see how long it takes to acquire a habit, obtaining very varied results, depending on the difficulty of what was wanted to achieve. Research indicates that some habits can take very little to be acquired, just 18 days, while others, on the other hand, take almost a year to become something everyday. It has also been seen that missing one or two days does not have a negative impact on the acquisition of the habit, but missing more than two.
How to create a habit: steps to follow
However, once the habit has been introduced into the person’s daily life, the physical and intellectual effort that was necessary to invest at the beginning of the process becomes much less.
1. Set specific goals
It is quite possible that you have many goals that you want to achieve. However, and as the popular saying goes, who covers a lot, little squeezes.
The ideal is to try to introduce only one habit at the beginning, at most two, and hope to achieve it after a while.
If you can settle the habit, you can try to increase the level of complexity. For example, if you wanted to walk half an hour a day, now you can try to make it an hour or even do part of that time running.
It is very important that the habits to follow are defined in a very concrete way. It is not the same to say that you are going to walk for half an hour every day after eating than to tell yourself that you are going to walk.
In the second case, it is more likely to fall into self-deception, saying that by moving around the house, it already counts how to walk or, since you have already done the errands you had to do, you could say that you have exercised .
2. Define a plan and stop making excuses
Whenever you try to introduce a new habit in life, there is a constant fight against laziness and a return to the old routine.
It is common for you to tell yourself that you do not have enough time, that you do not have the material you play, that you have other obligations, etc.
The worst enemy to getting a dream is not obligations or lack of time. The worst enemy is yourself.
To put an end to these excuses, the best thing to do is to identify them and prepare in advance everything to avoid them.
Are there other obligations to do? Well, it’s time to do them before. Don’t we have the necessary material? Surely there is something at home or, if not, it is bought and ready.
Dreams are not going to come true by themselves, you have to put the will and effort to achieve them.
3. Schedule reminders
It does not make much sense to become aware that a new habit is going to be followed if later, in practice, you forget that it had to be done.
Thanks to technological advancement, mobile phones, in addition to being those devices to watch videos of kittens, have multiple functions, including being able to program personalized alarms, with a text message that reminds you what to do and when.
In addition, another option, a little more analogical, is to leave notes in strategic places in the house, such as the bathroom mirror, the refrigerator door or the TV screen where the things you have are written down. what to do.
Following this strategy, the excuse that what had to be done has been forgotten is no longer valid.
4. Monitor progress
From time to time, it is convenient to see how progress is taking place.
It is very important to check if progress has been made, and the best way to see it is by writing down in a notebook or on your mobile the days in which the habit to be carried out has and has not been fulfilled.
If it has been the case that there has been a day in which what had to be done has not been done, it is very important to point out the reason for it.
In this way, not only will it be known how often the habit is being made and to what degree the objective is being achieved, it will also be possible to detect possible obstacles that have arisen during the process.
5. Celebrate what has been achieved
In the same way that it is very important to see to what extent the proposed is being achieved, it is also very important to celebrate it.
Even if you have failed the odd day, it is possible to celebrate what you have achieved at the end of the week or month, allowing yourself some respite or whim.
However, the rewards must be consistent and must also be very timely.
It wouldn’t make much sense to celebrate having gone a whole week without eating industrial pastries by stuffing a whole cake between the chest and back on the weekend.
Nor does it make sense to celebrate that you have not smoked today by lighting a cigarette the next morning.
- Duhigg, Charles (2014). The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
- Graybie, AM and Smith, KS (2014). Psychobiology of habits. Research and Science, 455, 16-21.
- Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C. Potts, H. and Wardle, J. (2009) How are habits formed: Modeling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40 (6), 998-1009.