Forming habits is part of our human nature. Over time we form habits that can either help or hinder our life and affect how we function from day to day. Habits are building blocks of our lives but developing habits takes work. There are some ways to help make sure that new habits stick and help you on the path to success.
Why Do We Form Habits?
First it is important to understand why we form habits and how it works. Habits have evolved to help our brains work more efficiently. Scientists have found that our brains go through decision fatigue and make worse decisions as the day goes on. Our brains have developed habits to help us make fewer decisions throughout the day. When we carry out automatic behavior we don’t use as much brain power.
Our brains tap out when they can to allow them to show up more focused when we need them too. Habits go through a loop that includes cue, response and reward which helps our brain to trigger into this habit. Our brain stores the repetitive action in the basal ganglia in our brains, where we store them for the future.
There are some tips to help make forming a new habit easier, but habits are hard to break. Try these steps to help make your new habit stick.
1- Start Small
When it comes to habits, you should not “go big or go home.” The smaller you start the easier it will be to make the habit stick. Start with one habit at a time and focus on making it consistent before moving onto the next.
Working on a habit doesn’t have to be extensive. If you want to eat less ice cream, don’t just cut out ice cream, eat one less scoop a day. Starting big generally leads to failure and is much harder, simply because it is not sustainable.
2- Bad Days Are Inevitable
If you expect yourself to be perfect when working on a new habit, that is just unrealistic. Bad days are inevitable, and can be defeated if you let it. Missing a day of habit or habits doesn’t need to break you. You can make up for the day you missed and refocus on why you are making a change in the first place.
3- All Days Make A Difference
With bad days, comes the hard days. On the first day of going to the gym you probably won’t see results, but on day 100 you will, but what day of going to the gym made you fit? There probably isn’t just one day where things flipped, the consistency is what made the difference.
Each day counts towards your goal and makes a difference if done consistently. If you miss a day, there is no need to punish yourself, but keep working hard the next day.
4- Follow The Habit Loop
As mentioned before, habits happen in a loop. This loop includes a cue, response and reward.
The cue is something that triggers you to behave in a certain way. It could be anxiety, a smell or something else that gets your brain to anticipate the reward. Cues are different for different people so it is important to keep track of what yours are.
Your brain then elicits a response to this impulse. This is automatic and comes when your brain turns off its decision making mechanism. It happens almost mindlessly.
The reward, this comes after you do the action. For example, your brain releases dopamine when you make an online purchase. The craving is satisfied and the reward tells our brain to remember this action.
This is important to know because this is how habits are formed. You can hack your behavior with this method to create a habit. Without one of the stages, the whole thing collapses.
5- Write It Down
It has been studied and found that writing things down with pen and paper is beneficial not only for learning but also for remembering. Writing things down can help with understanding and also holds you accountable. When writing things down you will be able to keep track of them and your progress.
6- Believe In Yourself
The most important part of doing anything is to believe that you can do it. Being confident that something can change is important for creating a new habit. Creating a habit requires diligence, confidence and brain power. If you tell yourself you can create a new habit, you can. Putting your mind to something really works when it comes to a habit.
Help With Ogden Psychological Services
Sometimes habits can be hard to break and difficult to cope with. Counseling and discussing your struggles can help. We give you a safe space to talk about your feelings and struggles. Some habits can be very damaging to your health and can be broken with the help of a third party.
We provide individual counseling and marriage counseling that can help solve issues and different concerns. Our board-certified and licensed counselors are here to help you in a safe and confidential environment. Contact us to schedule or to learn more about the therapy services we provide.