If you don’t find habits just freaking fascinating then I just don’t know about you. A habit can tell a LOT about a person. We ALL have habits.. some good, some bad. Some influential, some silly. But no matter what our habits are, we all share one thing in common: who we are as a person is ultimately shaped and defined by our habits:
- Did we do well in school? – We probably developed good study habits.
- Are we able to go on our dream vacation this year? – We probably developed good financial habits and have saved up for this trip.
- Are we physically fit? – We probably have developed healthy eating habits and good exercise habits.
- Are we always running late? – We probably developed poor time management habits.
- Are we always losing our car keys? – We probably developed poor organization habits.
- Are we always feeling tired in the morning? – We probably developed a habit of staying up late watching the Real Housewives on Bravo…. (stop looking at me).
And the thing that I probably find the most interesting and true when it comes to habit formation, is that we’ll never achieve our goals if we don’t first change our behaviors, or – our habits. It’s the things we do every single day; big and small, that get us to a finish line. Or, perhaps more accurately, it’s the habits we do every single day that turn us into the person we want to become. There’s never really a “finish line” or a stopping point. Instead, it’s more of a constant cycle of improvement and becoming our best selves. Once one goal is achieved and crossed off the list, those habits are already in place, so it becomes time to either tweak and improve those habits, or develop new ones.
It’s the habits that we adopt and stay committed to that ultimately make the biggest difference in where we are today versus where we’ll be ten years from now.
So how can we start implementing new + good habits, while simultaneously saying goodbye to our bad habits?
How to create habits that last
Habit development is a process that is different for everyone. I know there’s a belief that it takes 21 days to form a habit, or something like that. Maybe it does for some people. But I’d be willing to bet that there are others that can form a habit in just a few days, and then there are others that have been working on shaping their habits for years. It all depends on a lot of different factors:
- How difficult or foreign the habit is
- Your knowledge about the habit
- The resources you have available
- The support system you have (or lack)
- Your environment
- Your willingness to change; AKA how committed you are to seeing this thing through
For some people and some habits, it may only take days to have it become part of your normal routine. For others, it could take weeks, months, or even years. Does that mean that we shouldn’t practice the art of forming new (positive) habits? No, it just means we need to understand the process and go into it with a plan.
You cannot improve something that doesn’t exist. You can’t improve your one mile run time if you don’t first run. Period. A habit must be established before it can be improved. So, how can we create habits that actually stick and don’t just build up in the back of our minds like clutter does in the back of our junk drawers?
It’s easy to say we’re going to start doing something. The real challenge lies in actually taking that first step and doing the thing we said we’re going to do. “I’ll exercise tomorrow,” sounds believable. But what happens when tomorrow comes and you’re feeling tired? Most of the time, if you don’t have a solid plan in place and if you haven’t implemented good habits, you’re probably going to push it off another day, right? We’ve all been there.
In order to stick, a habit must encompass three characteristics:
- The habit must be simple
- The habit must be enjoyable
- The habit must be in line with who you’re wanting to become
That’s it. Those three things join together to form the big secret behind forming habits. If your habits aren’t simple, if you don’t enjoy them, and if they don’t align with your vision – chances are you’re not going to keep doing them.
I could literally go on FOREVER about this topic.. and I kinda did. When I sat down to write this blog post, it ended up being WAY TOO LONG, so I’ve decided to break it up into a four part series. Each week, we’ll talk about about how to create habits that last. We’ll go through the three characteristics of a habit in detail, and steps you can take to be successful with forming your new habits and achieving your goals!
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Natasha Funderburk is a wife, #boymom, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Consultant, and ACE-Behavior Change Specialist. When not watching her son play baseball, she can be found on various writing platforms, coaching her clients to live their best lives, drinking all the coffee, and conducting living-room dance parties.