Throughout our lifetimes we have developed our range of habits. The things we do on a daily basis is what makes or break our moods, thoughts, and emotions. Such as our daily routines, eating plans, or study strategies. What if there is a new habit you have always wanted to try, such as going to the gym or reading everyday. Starting this blog is one of my new habits; I am trying to work on it everyday. I try to do everything I can to enjoy this habit, and use it for the future.
After a while, habits become automatic responses. There have been circumstances where people with memory loss still complete their habits because their influence on the amygdala. A habit is where a certain trigger happens and the amygdala responds respectively. For example, a bad habit could ensue if you eat a cookie everyday you get home from school. The trigger is getting home, and the response is eating the cookie. The amygdala does this automatically with no brain power. To start a new habit, you must repeat the task consistently, to the point it because automated.
It takes a lot of mental strength to start a new habit. However, I have some advice which I hope can help you start building habits. Initially, implement the Two-Day rule, a strategy coined by Matt D’Avella. Secondly, track your habits; make sure you can reflect on what you have achieved. Finally, identify the science behind your habit, and set a goal which you wish to achieve.
The Two-Day Rule
Habits happen on a daily basis, and it can be hard to make time out of your day to start a new one. The Two-Day rule is as simple as it sounds, do not miss your habit two days in a row. Try to get your task done everyday, but it is not a big deal if you skip a few; as long as you do not skip two in row, you are still habit building. Slowly, you will start to build your habit, eventually you will reach your goals.
According to Matt’Davella:
“we’re biologically wired to get distracted how many of us struggle with addictions from social media to alcohol and sex left to our own devices we will pretty much do anything but the right thing or at least the thing that we want to do if we never set rules for yourself”
The biggest habit breaker is either forgetting to do it, or something else getting in the way. However, you can always make time. For example, if you want to start reading everyday, then reading just a couple pages once every two days would be productive. After a while, it will become easy it just takes time.
Track Your Habits
The best way to see progress is to visualize it. It is useful to mark off every time you complete your habit. This works especially with the Two-Day Rule mentioned above. However, even without implementing that method it is good to see when you skipped days or when you went on a long streak. It takes about 21 consecutive days to start a new habit; this number can vary.
When I track my habits I have used a variety of methods. The most convinent for me has been just a simple calandar on my wall where I mark off everyday I completed my habit. If you prefer a more digital approach, then I would use the app notion and set up your own workplace that you update everyday. You can also use habit tracker apps which make it very simple to record, and will even remind you if your habit is not done.
Find Your Trigger
The best way to develop new habits is to understand how they work; they occur through a cue, routine, and reward process. If you want to start a new habit you need to understand the cue that goes into it. For instance, someone who just underwent knee surgery will need to walk everyday consistently. So whenever it is 4:00 p.m (cue), they will go for a mile walk (routine), and then eventually have a smooth recovery (reward). It is extremely beneficial apply this knowledge to any habit that you want to implement into your life.
All habits go through this cycle mentioned by Charles Duhig in his book The Power of Habit
“THE FRAMEWORK: • Identify the routine • Experiment with rewards • Isolate the cue • Have a plan”
Duhig explains how writing down this framework to plan out your habits will allow you to find your cue and become more consistent. If running everyday does not give a good enough reward for you, try to change it to something that will further appeal to your sense. The only way to build a new habit is if you genuinely want to, so find ways to increase your drive.
Implementing new habits takes a lot of willpower but can be achieved with understanding the process.
Developing new habits is not an easy task with distractions, procrastinations, and time restraints. However, there are ways to expedite your habit building. Initially, the two-day rule leaves room for error and does not force you to be consistant everyday. Tracking your habits lets you visualize your progress and motivate you to continue. Finally, understanding the science behind habits brings the knowledge that you can apply to habit building. These three things are an easy way to start new everyday tasks to your life.