Forming New Habits

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Life is tricky. Sometimes one can find themselves completely lost in the woods with no clear way out or path through. We are constantly being bombarded with stimuli and tasks to complete. It’s often hard to get around to doing the things we really want or even really need to do. Creating the life we want seems simple but turns out to be very difficult. Why is this?

I’ve found the best way to create stability and strength in one’s life is by developing strong and consistent positive habits that can carry you to the place you’d like to be. In this article, I’m going to talk about how I have implemented habits in my life that have made things a thousand times better.

The other night I was talking to my younger brother about old teachers. He told me that one year in geography he had an old teacher of mine. On his first day of class, the teacher identified him as my brother and said to him that he used to call me ‘The Anchor’, unbeknownst to me, because I “sank the class average.” Despite the insult being uttered many years ago it still landed pretty hard in the present. He wasn’t wrong. I was not a good student. I used to barely hand in assignments on time. I never did my homework. I used to spend most of my time trying to avoid getting caught for one reason or another.

It took me being out of school for many years before I worked out why I was behaving like this. It’s because I didn’t have any strong work habits or structure in my life to form those habits. At home, I wasn’t getting nearly enough sleep and my diet was very poor. I had no energy and no enthusiasm to work either at school or at home. I carried this into my early 20’s and when I realised I needed to make a change I began implementing new habits around health, exercise and my work ethic so that my life started to change for the better. I had more focus and more control over my life. So how did I do it?

Firstly, I found that a habit tracker was incredibly helpful on a day to day basis. Having a habit tracker either on your phone or in a notepad gives you a sense of accomplishment when you tick off that habit for the day. It also makes it very easy for you to know what you’re doing and what direction you’re moving in as you can see how many days you’ve missed. I recommend the app ‘Habit – Daily Tracker’.

One’s mentality towards failure is really important when it comes to making new habits. In my mind, there is no such thing as failure when it comes to making lifestyle changes that are important to you. Say that you tell yourself ‘‘I’m going to get 8 hours of sleep every day this week’’ and you miss a day, it’s so important that you don’t take this too hard. I try to just think ‘Oh, ok, I missed that day, never mind’. And then try again tomorrow. It’s in trying again that we form the habits, not necessarily in succeeding to accomplish them every day.

A lot of habit experts will agree that one really easy way to make a new habit is to start small. Trying to take on something too arduous or complex too early will only leave you feeling intimidated and frustrated. It’ll be unlikely for you to continue with the habit. If you start small it’s so much easier to form a habit that will cause a ripple effect and in no time you’ll be actively aiming for bigger and bigger challenges. For example, Dr Rangan Chatterjee recommends that if you’re looking to get fit, rather than going and getting a gym membership and pledging to spend an hour a day in the gym lifting weights, just get a dumbbell and keep it in your kitchen so that when you are making breakfast in the morning you can take some time to do a few curls. When you form the habit you’ll be feeling fitter and more capable of taking on bigger challenges. I guess the important rule here is that the habit is more important than how strenuous the exercise is.

One’s social habits are essential for a happy life. Making sure that you see friends and family as well as spending time in your community is what makes life amazing and without habits in place, you can find yourself losing connection to these things. Make sure to schedule a part of your week for meeting people and going to events. If you have nowhere to go the Sense Social app can help you do this so you can link you up with great events happening near you.

If you can begin to take on new habits and incorporate them into your lifestyle it will allow you to live the life you want to live. You’ll be able to be more adventurous and more social when you feel you are living up to your potential and what better way to live up to your potential than by forming great lifelong habits.

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