How to Create New Habits
We're nearing that time of year where we promise ourselves we'll gym three times a week and somehow become elevated versions of ourselves overnight. But if we're being honest with ourselves, far too often our new year's resolutions become lackluster efforts at best by March.
Creating new habits requires determination and patience. We've created this guide to serve as a reminder and step-by-step approach to overhauling your worst habits and working towards that version of you that you want to be.
First thing's first...
Write it Down
A manifester's dream. The power of writing things down extends beyond just positive manifestation (which yes, works, but more on that another time). Writing down your progress can take a simple thought from your head to something more rooted in reality. In other words, it's a way to make your goal more real.
We have a working theory that you need to be able to measure progress in order to see change. When you're changing your habits, progress can be miniscule. In fact, most days change feels like nothing at all. Have you ever looked in the mirror and realized your hair is just somehow long one day? If you were to rely on your naked eye, you wouldn't notice the tiniest growth from day-to-day. However, if you were to measure your hair with a ruler each day, you would know without surprise that yes, each day there is a minute amount of progress. We think that habit changing is similar. You need to be able to write down the days you did, or didn't, complete your goal. Eight cups of water today? Check.
Start with One Habit
The most common mistake in cleaning up your act is doing too much at once. Think about it this way: every day after if you've been sleeping 9 hours a night every night for years, would your body respond well to sleeping 6 hours a night suddenly? Our biological clocks are similar to our everyday habits, we inherently adjust to our patterns, and when we want to break out of these patterns, it's often not the most sustainable method to go cold turkey.
Our take: start by doing just one thing right. Make your bed in the morning. Even if it's not your Pinterest-perfect picture, it's a great way to set the tone for the day and a great reminder that you're off to a productive start. There's a reason why powerhouses are focused on their morning routines.
Start Small, Build Your Positive Feedback Loop
Small adjustments are ones that are so easy they are hard to ignore. The power of a positive feedback loop tells us that when we are confident in our ability to carry out tasks, no matter how menial, we are more likely to trust ourselves to do the harder tasks.
Our take: work on your small adjustments first. If your goal is to focus on fitness, do 5 push-ups in the morning. If you skip it, you'll know that you can fit them in while you're waiting for your shower water to warm up - it would be nearly impossible not to make time for this.
Work Your Way Up
Humans are fascinating in our ability to adapt so quickly to change. Spending a month doing 5 push-ups a day will likely make you bored and unengaged. The beauty of starting small is that there is so much room left for growth. Space out your progress into tiny steps, it's much more interesting to push yourself to do 5 extra push-ups a week than to ruin your progress because you spent a day doing 50 push-ups and ended up burning out. And trust me, we've all been there.
Value Consistency Over Perfection
We believe in the beauty of the big picture. Sometimes, we'll have a fun night out with friends celebrating a birthday or a wedding (hi, COVID brides), and we just can't seem to get it together the next morning. So, what then? Review your journal. Remind yourself that 29/30 is near damn perfect and allow yourself some grace. Remember, a perfect program leaves room for human error.
Heed the Science
We're a generation that loves instant gratification. Cue Ariana Grande, "I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it." But the reality of basic humanism is that we are far too complex to be able to achieve sustainable change overnight. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Social Psychology, creating a new habit, like going to bed early, can take anywhere between 18 and 254 days. Yes, that's anywhere between a few weeks to 9 months.
The good news is you CAN trick yourself into feeling that instant gratification by doing this next trick, which is by far our favorite.
Celebrate Each Milestone
We celebrate everything. A week of making our bed? Ice cream, here we come! A month of waking up half an hour earlier? We're sleeping until noon this Sunday. Meditating every day for 6 months? We've achieved nirvana, our bounds are limitless.
Celebrating milestones is not only fun, it's essential to the process. We need to feel senses of accomplishment to move onward and upward (remember that positive feedback loop)?
So there you have it. Your ultimate guide to creating new habits. It may not be groundbreaking, but it is an important reminder that everything is achieved in due course.
If you have a new habit you're trying to incorporate, take us along for your journey by tagging us at @prvntla or #prvntla. We'll cheer you on every step of the way!