It’s the New Year and you’ve probably got a few things you want to change in 2020. Imagine yourself this time next year, what do you want to be true of you? Are you healthier? More productive? More disciplined?
The biggest changes we experience rarely happen overnight. They happen because of steady small choices we make daily. These are called habits.
Stop making lofty New Year resolutions, and instead aim to change your habits. Adding a new habit to your day will create longer lasting effects than any New Years resolution.
Here’s the best way to add a new habit to your day. This time next year you can be the healthier, more productive, and more disciplined version of yourself -- but you have to work for it.
Building a habit takes time
Know that habits take 21 days to form. You’ve got to commit. Anyone can do anything for a month. 21 days, that’s it. You can do it.
Breaking a habit can happen quickly
Know it only takes 3 days to break a habit. Forgive yourself if you miss a day. Progress is better than perfection. But too many missed days means you’re erasing all your hard work.
Add one habit at a time
This is critical! If you try to add multiple new habits at once, you’re more likely to fail. Add one new habit at a time. After 21 days, you can add another new habit. You may be disappointed that you won’t be a new person next month, but know that it’s better to go slow and build lasting change than to burn out too quickly. If you think this process will be too slow and you’ll never get to where you want to be, have hope. There are 365 days in the year, that leaves room for 17 new habits. Imagine if you successfully built up 17 new habits by this time next year. That would look a whole lot better than just the 3-4 you tried but failed by trying to do them all at once.
Add your new habit to a current routine
If you have a routine that works for you, tack on your new habit to your current routine. Your morning or evening routine is likely to be the most consistent -- so add a new habit to one of those first.
Write down your habit that you’re wanting to achieve
Remember to focus on just one at this time. “Read for 30 minutes” or “Drink an extra glass of water”. There’s power in writing it down. You’ve created something concrete and you’re committing to it.
Using a chart or a habit tracker on paper or an app allows you to give yourself a pat of the back each time you’ve succeeded. It’s important to celebrate your small wins. And checking that little box is a great way to give yourself a small celebration.
Don’t take breaks
As you know it only takes 3 days to break a habit. If you have a vacation coming up you may be worried about how your new habit will fare on your getaway, but don’t worry. You can use this to your advantage. Vacations can actually be a great time to add a new habit. When you’re in unfamiliar places, you’re more easily able to rewire your brain to add a new habit. Everything else is new, so it’s easy to add one more new thing. Just keep the habit when you get back home. For example, if you want to wake up earlier in the day, start on vacation. Make it special. Get up to see the sunrise, have a yummy breakfast, and enjoy your trip. When you get home, keep waking up at the same time. You’ll have a head start on your new habit.
Think differently about bad habits
What if you’re trying to be free of a bad habit? Whether it’s a social media addiction, chewing your nails, or that carb-heavy late night snack, you won’t have much success just removing an old habit. You can’t just “poof” your current habits away. You need to change your focus of trying to remove an old habit to replacing it with a new habit. If you leave a void, your old habit will come right back. Fill that spot with a positive new habit instead. Use my tips above for adding a new habit in place of your old habit. Instead of sitting on social media during your work break, do a crossword instead. Instead of chewing your nails, keep your hands busy with a puzzle or going for a run. Instead of that carb-heavy late night snack, pull out a book with lots of intrigue and read until you fall asleep.
Get an accountability partner
Lastly, for both creating a new habit and replacing old habits, getting an accountability partner will help you stay the course until your new habit is rock solid. Ask a friend or a spouse to help you stay accountable to your new habit. Remember just to focus on one new habit at a time. If you can’t find an accountability partner or if you need an unbiased one, you can find one online. I’d love to help keep you accountable during my 1 on 1 coaching sessions, which you can find here.
What new habits will you be adding to your life in 2020? Which new habit will you be adding first?
Hey! I'm Christine, I'm an entrepreneur and small business owner who has learned by trial and error. I write helpful articles that help you take your next steps in business. Occasionally I like to mix things up and dash in a bit of lifestyle topics. Thanks for being here!