‘’We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit’’ — Aristotle
Accounting to researchers of the Duke University our habits make up to 40% of our everyday lives and ensure that we do not have to think about every single thing that we do throughout our days. Through habits we can make sure to accomplish daily tasks despite of loads of information. This excessive amount of information is on the other hand also the reason why building new habits is so hard — because we get distracted all the time.
They help us to save time and energy thus making space for new things.
Everyone has goals that he or she is working towards — imagine building habits that would support your goals and push you towards achievements every day. Sounds great, right?
New habits can feel quite weird at the beginning but when knowing what the goal behind it is and knowing how to really implement them sustainably process can be made easily.
So the goal is to build habits that support our big visions and goals — but how does one start and what measures need to taken?
First we have to understand what is behind habits. In fact every habit is kind of an addiction. We get addicted to the rewards that we get or feel afterwards. It is the same with good as well as bad habits. The reward can also be to simply feel good because of the accomplishment. Those rewards activate the desire to repeat the action.
3R’s of habit change
The whole process of building and maintaining each habit relates to a principle called the 3R’s of habit change. The 3R’s are Reminder — Routine — Reward. Every good or bad habit relates to those three principles. There is always something reminding us to take action. This might be a phone call to be answered or just some kind of feeling that triggers the routine. Every habit comes with a reward — this might be physical or just a feeling that we want to have repeatedly.
Dream big — start small
It is proven, that big visions and dreams can empower our motivation and lead to more action. A big vision leads to intrinsic motivation, which again ends up in habits that really stick!
When building habits you should always have the big picture, your vision in mind and work on small implementations into your everyday life. Focus on the minimum amount of work that you have to accomplish each and every day to come closer to your goals. The key is that big goals become achievable through small actions that are taken every day!
Start with habits that are so small that you can’t even say no and gradually improve in small steps. Imagine adding up 1% at a time — you will see extreme improvements very fast!
We already have tons of habits that we repeat each day without even realizing it. Through so called behavior chains we can schedule new habits around established ones to make sure that we do not forget or skip them. The ‘’old habit’’ is therefore our reminder for the one. It is a so called ‘’ if — then ‘’ planning. So you might tell yourself every time after brushing your teeth you do 10 minutes of stretching. We simply take a regular part of our schedule and build new habits around these established triggers.
Get back on track
The best way to improve your self-control and to getting now why you slipped your habit is to make sure to know how and why you loosed control. Missing your habit once does not have a big impact on your long term progress. Even professionals slip but what is important is that they get back on track as fast as possible. Get away from that all-or-nothing mentality and always get back on track. You need to be consistent — not perfect!