The way you live your life is essentially the direct result of the habits you have created. These habits impact how you live in both positive and negative ways.
When you want to improve and transform your life, it makes sense to kick the bad habits and form new ones. Experts, however, learned in a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology that it takes at least 66 days to build a new habit.
Factors like your behavior, your expectations, and your motivation to faithfully stick to your routines can affect how these new habits come about. But while it might be a challenging thing to do, countless people have successfully developed new habits to make their life better. And if they can do it, then so can you.
Here Are 5 Ways Researchers Reveal To Form A New Habit And Transform Your Life
“Breaking old habits and forming new ones always takes time, but it is worth it in the end.” – Joyce Meyer
1. It’s okay to have big dreams, but it’s better to have small goals.
A study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology showed that motivation and discipline can come from abstract thinking. The study further stated that, in many ways, people who dream big based on these abstract thoughts develop a higher sense of power and purpose.
So, these people become quite determined to build new habits because of the idea that their big dreams may bring the most satisfactory results. However, too often in life, the motivation to do big things are eclipsed by the challenges and realities of day-to-day activities.
It also takes time for big dreams to make a dramatic impact. Sometimes, it is easy to lose sight of the motivation to create and sustain the new habit when you can’t see concrete results to your goals.
To make big dreams become a reality – and thus impact the way you form new habits – it is better, therefore, to build them with smaller goals. When you put these small goals together, they will form part of the bigger picture – your bigger dreams. But of course, what’s easier to cross off your list and mark as “completed”? It’s always the smaller goals.
2. Create a new chain of behavior from your old routines.
For good habits that stick, experts from the Journal of Psychology, Health & Medicine said that it would be better to create new habits based on your old routines or experiences. Instead of making a complete change, which you might eventually resist or do away with, why not try to create a new link to your old ways and see how that will work to improve your life?
For instance, you do not really have to become the next Martha Stewart if your goal is to make cleanliness a habit. Now, this kind of goal takes a lot of willpower and you might not have the energy to stick to the habit of making your home clean, cozy and inviting after a few challenging weeks. But if you want to make your house spotless every day, how do you do it?
Experts suggest following the if-then principle, as per the Harvard Business Review. It’s a simple process that entails giving yourself conditions. For instance, IF you’ve changed into your house clothes when you arrive home from work, then you can start cleaning the kitchen. Or, if you’re taking a shower in the morning, then you might as well clean the bathroom before you start your day. As with the first tip above, reach small, doable goals that expand from the routines you’re already used to.
In relation to adding new things to your routines, experts say that your cortisol levels are higher in the morning. The cortisol hormone impacts fast learning and better memory. So, if you’re thinking of modifying your routines, consider the ones you do in the morning to elicit a more positive outcome of creating and sticking to a habit to transform your life.
3. Trim down your options to uncomplicate your life.
Everyone knows that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg limits his wardrobe choices to just two types of clothes: basic gray shirts and jeans. For someone with billions of dollars, Zuckerberg made a conscious choice to trim down his clothing options.
He told reporters the very simple reason why. He didn’t want to waste his time and energy in making decisions on what to wear when there are bigger choices he has to make for his company. There’s a science behind this behavior, as expounded in a study on the American Psychological Association. Experts related it to self-control and long-term discipline.
So, to create new habits that can bring a good change, you must recognize areas in your life that you consider tedious or repetitious. Try to trim down the options in these areas, so you don’t have to be bogged down by the choices.
For instance, if you want to make a habit of eating healthy, the most logical thing to do is to cut down on your junk food choices. Stop buying snacks and high-calorie food. Better yet, pack the same healthy meals for work every day so you don’t have to waste your lunch hour by making a choice on what to eat.
Limiting your choices is a matter of self-control and discipline, which helps you in forming new habits. In this case, you’re making the positive move to improve your health, which will obviously impact your physical and mental well-being.
4. Visualize but don’t fantasize about the process to build a new habit.
Visualization helps when you want to motivate yourself to create and sustain a new habit or goal. Experts say there’s a right and a wrong way to do this process. Some people make the mistake of turning the things they visualize into a fantasy. As a result, they are not able to sustain the habit that should have ushered a change in their life. Apparently, those that fantasize lose sight of why they want the transformation in the first place.
A case in point is the study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Experts from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) looked into two different groups of participants who were learning French. One group visualized themselves as learning and studying the language by practicing in class every day, while the other group visualized – or more like fantasized – they were on a trip to Paris and were speaking to the locals.
The study stated that the first group of participants who focused on the process of what they wanted to achieve showed more consistent results in mastering French. They were more motivated and also less anxious about going through the process. It seemed that this type of visualizing prepared them well, thus they were able to create and sustain a new habit of using a foreign language.
5. Don’t give up on the habit if you slip up.
It’s easy to quit doing something when you don’t see any positive results or when you slip up and start questioning if it’s really worth the effort. Psychologists describe this behavior as the What-The-Hell effect. It’s when you set a goal but then don’t reach it, so you let go of any self-control you have left because you feel you have failed anyway.
But what many do not understand is that forming new habits can be a challenging and fragile process. So, if you start thinking that it would better to ditch the habit because it’s not changing your life, sit down and take a good look at what’s really going on.
Focus on creating long-term goals instead of short-term goals in order to sustain the new habit. A good example would be the long-term goals of those who are part of Alcoholics Anonymous. They focus on how far they have come to achieve soberness by counting their non-drinking days. The principle behind this may also work when forming new good habits.
Final Thoughts On Ways To Form A New Habit And Transform Your Life
Experts say that a positive change in your life can happen if you keep doing the same routines over and over until they become your habits. While it might feel like forming a new habit is kind of a hassle, it usually takes less than 10 minutes to do something consistently every day.
The actual challenge is how to stick to these routines. For this, you need to find the purpose of what you’re doing. When you know the purpose, then you also learn why doing something over and over until it becomes a habit is beneficial to you. Then your life will change because of it.