How to Make Your Habits Work for You
By B Bickham profile image B Bickham
7 min read

How to Make Your Habits Work for You

Your habits have far-reaching implications. They affect your well-being. Since they are so important, you need to set them up to succeed. There are many ways you can influence your habits, such as pursuing activities you are passionate about, setting realistic and attainable goals, and practicing mindfulness. Your habits also

Your habits have far-reaching implications. They affect your well-being. Since they are so important, you need to set them up to succeed. There are many ways you can influence your habits, such as pursuing activities you are passionate about, setting realistic and attainable goals, and practicing mindfulness.

Your habits also affect your productivity. If you are working a 9-to-5 job, creating a morning routine is beneficial. That may mean waking up early to exercise, meditate, or spend a few minutes thinking through your day ahead.

If you spend a lot of time on social media, ask yourself why. Are you just trying to distract yourself from your to-do list? Do you find yourself scrolling through Facebook mindlessly?

If so, it may be worth limiting your screen time. You can also choose to block certain websites on your computer. Regardless, it's always essential to make your habits work for you.

So how can you let your habits help you rather than draw you back? Consider these tips:

  1. Draw a habit loop for the behavior you want to change. For example, let's say you want to quit smoking. You keep fiddling with your lighter when you're trying to relax. Do this instead: pull out your phone and browse the internet when you're bored. Each time you do this, you're reinforcing your habit.
  • A habit loop is like a loop of reinforcement that helps you to form and maintain new habits. Through this reinforcement, you are encouraged to continue performing a certain behavior over and over again until it becomes a regular part of your routine. It's a powerful way to build healthy habits and make them stick for the long-term. By understanding how habit loops work, you can use them to your advantage and create new, positive habits that will last.
  • Just as paying attention to your eating habits causes you to pick up better diets and healthier eating habits, taking the time to observe other behaviors can also help you develop better and healthier habits. Paying attention to the way you interact with others, how you think, and how you use your time can all be modified and improved with a little effort. With the right mindset, you can use the power of observation to make changes that will benefit you in the long-term. Not only will this help you form healthier habits, but it may also help you further understand yourself and the world around you.

2. Pile your habits on top of each other. One of the most effective ways to form a new habit is to link it with an older one.

  • For example, let's say you want to go to the gym after work. If you have a habit of driving home from work, you could pile your habit onto that. Instead of driving home, you could find a gym on your way home from work.
  • That way, even if you've experienced a lapse in motivation and have fallen off the wagon, you can still make the effort to go to the gym after work. This can help you to get back on track, as well as enabling you to reap the benefits of physical exercise, such as improved mood, better sleep, and increased energy. So why not make the effort today, and get yourself back on the path to success?
Photo by Yousef Espanioly on Unsplash

3. Let your new behavior match your identity. There's a big difference between telling people, "I'm trying to quit," and telling them, "Sorry. I don't smoke!" The difference lies in your self-image.

  • A person who is attempting to quit a bad habit still has difficulty shedding the sense of identity associated with it. Despite the desire to break away from the old pattern, it remains embedded in his psyche in such a way that he still feels a part of him belongs to it. This is why it can be so difficult to truly let go of the habit and break free from the cycle. It takes tremendous effort and dedication to break away from the old pattern and fully embrace a new, healthier lifestyle.
  • On the other hand, the person who says he doesn't smoke is taking a step in the right direction. They are consciously making the decision to align their habits with the ones they want to incorporate. This mental shift is what truly makes all the difference when it comes to achieving one's goals. It is essential to be aware of the small changes that can lead to a big impact. Making positive decisions that lead to the desired outcome is the key to success.

4. Monitor your progress and make adjustments. If a habit isn't working, don't be afraid to adjust it. Monitor your progress and make changes as needed. For example, if you're trying to cut back on drinking, but you find yourself going overboard once a week, try reducing your drinking to once every two weeks.

  • Tracking your habits can be a great way to measure your progress and identify areas where you might need to make improvements. Keeping a journal or using an app to track your progress can help you to stay on top of your progress and make sure you're heading in the right direction. By tracking your habits frequently, you can easily pinpoint patterns and trends that can help you make better decisions, and make sure you're moving towards your goals. Additionally, this data can be used to compare different periods and see how your habits have changed over time. This can be a powerful tool for understanding yourself and reaching your desired outcomes.
  • Lastly, having an accountability partner or group can help you stay on track with your habits. Find someone who has similar goals and plan to check in with each other on a weekly basis.
Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

5. Baby steps are the key to winning your battle. A Stanford University researcher observed that a significant change in behavior needs high motivation levels. But we don't need research to tell us that we need more motivation to make substantial changes.

  • That's why it's best to take baby steps, gradually introducing changes to your lifestyle in manageable chunks. For example, if you're trying to drink less, start by cutting back on your drinking once or twice a week. As you start to see the positive impacts of the changes you are making, you will build up the confidence to keep pushing further and further, making bigger changes as you go. Making small changes to your behavior can have a huge impact on your overall health and wellbeing, so it's important to take the time to make sure that you introduce these changes in the right way.

6. Reward yourself with something more meaningful and beneficial in the long run. Breaking a bad habit can be incredibly challenging due to the rewards it offers. Gambling, for instance, provides an adrenaline rush and a sense of euphoria when winning (or even when losing) money. Even though the initial satisfaction of these rewards are strong, they are ultimately not beneficial in the long run. Therefore, it is important to replace the bad habit with something that will give you a greater reward in the long run. This could include activities such as exercising, reading, cooking, or even learning a new skill. All of these activities can provide you with a sense of accomplishment, contentment, and satisfaction that will last much longer than the fleeting rewards of a bad habit.

  • The best way to resist temptation is to employ a substitution strategy. When the urge to smoke a cigarette or indulge in a high-calorie snack comes, replace it with a healthier alternative. This can involve taking a walk or drinking a glass of water to take your mind off the craving. Finding a hobby or activity that you enjoy, such as painting or playing an instrument, can also be a great way to distract yourself from the temptation. Making a substitution for unhealthy habits can help you to avoid cravings and make healthier choices.

Remember: habits are incredibly powerful tools at our disposal. They are the foundation of our daily routines, and when we take the time to cultivate and nurture them, they can become even more effective in helping us reach our goals. Taking the time to make these tips part of our daily routine can be incredibly beneficial in reinforcing our habits and keeping them working for us. Making sure to follow through with these tips can help us maintain our positive habits and make sure that they are here to stay.

Eliminating Bad Habits (Checklist)

Bad habits really put the brakes on your progress. They’re like making the same mistake over and over again. Practice these strategies to get back on the road to freedom.

[ ]  Deal with one challenge at a time. You can eliminate another habit each month.

[ ]  Be a scientist. Be curious and adopt the perspective of doing an experiment. There’s less drama and bias that way.

[ ]  What benefit does your bad habit give you? Find a positive replacement that provides the same or a similar benefit.

[ ]  Set up reminders

[ ]  Tell your friends and they’ll help you reach your goal

[ ]  Remove your triggers

[ ]  Be consistent. Try to do your replacement habit daily.

[ ]  Remember the pain. Each day, ask yourself what it will mean if you don’t stop indulging in your bad habit. Visualize the likely outcome.

[ ]  Focus on the pleasure. Each day, also ask yourself what it will mean if you eliminate or replace your bad habit. Visualize the likely outcome of this scenario.

[ ]  Do your very best for a month. In 30 days you can eliminate a bad habit and create a new, positive habit.

[ ]  Avoid being too hard on yourself. It might take a couple of tries to get the new habit to stick. Just adjust your approach and keep on going.

By B Bickham profile image B Bickham
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