Last week we talked about how routines can help us to form new habits, now let’s break it down into a three step process that makes it easy to follow until we’ve internalized the new behavior and made it a true habit – something we do automatically without having to think about, like brushing our teeth.
Step 1: Decide What You Want To Do
The first step is to decide what you want that new habit to be. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just tell yourself you want to exercise more. Instead say something like “I will go for a 30 minute walk every single day”. Deciding what your new habit will be and committing to when and how you’re going to do it, is half the battle.
Step 2: Remind Yourself To Get It Done
The next few days should be smooth sailing. You’re motivated and excited to get this done. Sticking to your new habit isn’t an issue. But a few days in you’ll notice that it’s easy to slip back into old habits.
Maybe it’s raining and you don’t really want to go out and walk. Or maybe your day just gets away from you. This is when it’s important to have a daily reminder. Set an alert on your phone or add the new habit to your daily to-do list for a while.
Step 3: Use S.M.A.R.T Goals to Help you Build a Strategy to Create this New Habit
One effective way to creating a habit is to make it one of your goals. Treat it like a goal, and build your strategy around accomplishing this habit like it’s a goal. When it comes to forming goals I like to use the S.M.A.R.T goals format. With this you identify a Specific habit or goal; create milestones; identify ways this goal/habit has been achieved by other people (you don’t have to reinvent the wheel); identify how this new habit or goal fits into the bigger picture of your purpose or mission in life; and then finally you will create a timeline where you can work on creating the habit over time using the milestones you identified on your worksheet.
How does making your new habit a S.M.A.R.T goal beneficial?
It helps you to identify any obstacles that might get in your way to achieving your goal. Let’s use the example above, if you want to walk 30 minutes everyday you can identify that one obstacle you might face while forming this new habit is that one day it might be raining outside. When you establish the S.M.A.R.T goals for walking 30 minutes every day you can identify ways you will overcome this obstacle like walking inside, or on rainy days you can walk up and down your stairs in the house instead and/or do a walking video on youtube.
Turning the habit you want to establish into a S.M.A.R.T goal will also help you to create a list of certain milestones you would like to achieve that will help you turn your goal into a habit. This way if you want, you can work your way up to walking 30 minutes a day in smaller increments. This will still help you to form a new habit but over the course of a certain period of time.