What are your current goals and ambitions?
- Maybe you want to look after your health and wellbeing?
- Perhaps you plan to create the life balance you deserve?
- Or maybe you want to craft the career that you dream of?
Whatever you desire, you’ll need to either develop or kick some habits to get there.
The first challenge is that our habits are mostly a blind spot for us, we perform them unconsciously. Those close to us might notice them, but we don’t see them in ourselves. We have to take time out to uncover our habits in order to do something about them. It requires us to be curious about our own behaviour.
There’s a tendency to think that all habits are bad, but you may have some excellent habits that you want to amplify. The good news is that we can build on good habits to tackle our bad ones.
1. Habit Stacking
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about Habit Stacking, adding one habit on to another. For example, if you go to gym regularly [a good habit] but you also want to start learning or reading more, you could add the new habit of listening to podcasts or audio books while working out at the gym.
As I have mentioned before, it is essential that you are intentional about what you’ll do, when and where. You also have to make it easy for yourself. If you get to the gym and your phone isn’t charged, you haven’t downloaded the audio book or you forget your headphones, it’s not going to happen. So alongside getting your gym kit ready, you have to get everything ready for this new habit too.
2. Tracking Habits
Tracking habits is also very helpful, this year I am using a journal with a habit tracker within it. So for example, if you’ve decided you no longer want to be a bystander in your organisation but want to speak up more when you see things that aren’t right, you can track that habit by ticking it off each time you’ve done it. By the time you’ve done it 30 times it will have become a habit for you.
One of my favourite things to do is to devise the reward for completing my habit before I even start. That way, I reinforce my behaviour with a good feeling that comes from the reward. If you miss one opportunity to engage in your habit, forgive yourself, you’re only human. The aim is not to miss it twice, or you lose momentum.
3. Using Tech
Automation can really help your habits. Reminders that tell you to leave the office in 10 mins or get ready for your bedtime routine can be just the nudge that you need. Whatever you want to achieve there’s an app for it. Here are some suggestions:
- Habit tracking apps,
- Stop smartphone addiction apps
- Food tracking apps
- Sleep tracking apps
- Be more focused apps
4. Understand your own personality preference
Something that’s often overlooked is personality preference. When deciding to create new habits, some people will get a real buzz out of starting something new and may want to share their new habits with others. If that’s you maybe you want to buddy with someone or become part of group where you can celebrate success together.
Others want to develop habits to avoid threat. For example, if I don’t eat better, I may have a heart attack or if I don’t get that promotion, I may not be able to pay my rent or mortgage. Temptation bundling can really help here: doing something you want to do alongside something you need to do. So, if you love socialising while also wanting to eat better, you could say I will only go out to dinner if I have fruit salad for dessert. Or if you love new clothes and want to go for promotion, you could say that you’ll only buy yourself that new suit if you get an interview for the promotion.
Some people love new things, they are impulsive and attracted to excitement. For these people, developing habits can appear boring, but there’s lots you can do to make them more interesting. You could switch it up on a regular basis, resetting your habits monthly or quarterly. Or you could connect your habits with fun things you want to do. Or you could give yourself options that all deliver the same result, for example, you could try a new fitness class every week instead of doing the same routine in the gym, or google a new healthy recipe once a week instead of eating the same boring salads, or experiment with your approach to work life balance, one week leaving early, another having more lunch breaks, another making sure that you don’t work at the weekends.
5. Start Small
My final tip is to start small, as social psychologist Amy Cuddy says ‘tiny tweaks lead to big changes’, start small, start easy, but be consistent and you’ll get there.
Some further events and resources to help you plan:
Online : Our online programme and community, the Happenista Project, creates a great source of accountability for the habits that you wish to develop.
BOOK: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
PODCAST: Key Stone Habits [7 mins]
VIDEO: The Happiness Habit [20 mins]