Understanding what is a good habit and how developing good habits can be beneficial in both our personal and professional lives is an important topic.
We all have habits, things we do without really thinking about it.
- Should we try to develop a healthy, beneficial habit, and eliminate harmful habits?
- Why do some seem to have good habits while others tend to stay focused on bad habits?
- How can we tell which ones are good or bad habits?
- How does one even pick one over the other?
The one thing we do know is that the habits we develop have a considerable influence on our success in life.
These are some of the questions we will be covering in this article and more.
But first, let’s start with…
What is a Habit
Wikipedia describes a habit as a “routine of behaviour, repeated regularly, often occurring subconsciously.”
It makes sense then that a good habit would be a behaviour that is beneficial to our health and requires a high level of discipline or self-control.
Some common examples of good habits would be:
- regular exercise
- eating a well-balanced diet
- practicing good hygiene habits
- reading 30 minutes of self-development book
Examples of common bad habits could include:
- alcohol or drug abuse
- not getting regular sleep
- talking bad about others
These are some very common bad habits that some of us may see every day. A habit develops the first time we do it. That very first time we will either like it or not and anything we enjoy doing we tend to do it again.
Bad habits are much easier to develop because they give us instant satisfaction in life. And if we don’t think about our future then we continue to just keep doing what makes us feel good and have fun.
Good habits tend to take longer to enjoy the full benefits of them because they take more practice to get better however the reward is usually much greater in the long run.
For example, if you read a self-improvement book you may find the second time reading it you picked up some things you may have missed on the first reading. This is quite natural and is very important to understand when reading any material.
Most of our habits are developed from childhood which makes it very difficult trying to establish new habits but the results can be very rewarding.
Let’s take a look at some ways that might make it a bit easier to implement some new beneficial habits into our lives.
Decide What You Would Like to DO
The first thing we need to do is decide what changes we want to make in our life.
Perhaps we have a bad habit we would like to break or a new habit we would like to develop.
As I mentioned, it can be very difficult to break bad habits.
You may find it easier to replace a bad habit with something more positive than just stopping something. For example, it is easier to replace an unhealthy diet with a healthy diet and not have those unhealthy foods in the home.
Rather than focus on what you can’t eat I like to think of all the new recipes I will get to try with the new healthy choices. This gets me excited and I look for new recipes and foods to try.
There are so many things we could choose that will make a positive change in our lives such as:
- getting regular exercise
- eating healthy
- being more mindful or positive
- improving our ability to read
- improving our writing skills
These are just a few ideas to help you get thinking about what types of habits you may want to implement in your own life.
Why Not Start Small
You don’t have to start with a major change in your life. That is too difficult and not really sustainable in the long run.
I find it is much easier to start with a ridiculously small change.
For example, if you want to eat healthier start by eating one healthy meal per day.
If your goal is regular exercise, a good place to start is to park farther away from the door at the office so you have to walk farther to get in the building or take the stairs rather than the elevator.
The key is don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to change your whole life at once.
If you are overwhelmed you may not stick with it and it won’t become a habit.
Keep in mind also that some may prefer the cold turkey style of change as well so if you happen to be one of those types then perhaps making that big change is how you handle it better.
Persistence is the key to creating a habit.
You don’t need to make a BIG change but you do need to DO IT DAILY.
Persistently do new behaviour every day.
They say it takes 21 days to create a habit.
I challenge you to put that to the test.
Choose the habit you wish to develop and do it consistently every day for 21 days and see if it has become a habit.
Step It Up
Once you find you are consistently doing that one baby step you can step it up a bit.
Let’s look at the healthy eating example. Once you are consistently eating 1 healthy meal each day try eating two healthy meals per day.
Then step it up to three healthy meals.
Finally, add healthy snacks and before you know it you will have successfully changed your diet to a healthy diet that will help you be the healthiest you can be.
If exercise was your goal once you are consistently parking further from the office and walking more to work or taking stairs instead of the elevator why not add a 15-minute walk at lunch.
Once that becomes a normal part of your day adds a walk in the evening after supper.
Then maybe you might want to try a bicycle ride or join a sports team or just increase the length of your walks.
Just gradually add different activities that you think you may enjoy and before you know it you are leading a very active lifestyle full of healthy exercise in different forms without overwhelming yourself so it is sustainable.
I had wanted to lose weight so I began by working on a healthy diet. I started small by changing one meal at a time.
Once I had changed my diet I then worked on portion control. I made sure I was making healthy choices and choosing smaller amounts.
I had paid for and tried so many programs that promise you will lose x pounds in 3 weeks. Well, I am here to say they never worked for me. I had to take things into my own hands and the biggest driving factor was my determination to lose those pounds and be healthy again.
After 6 months of eating healthy, I added exercise. I started with a short walk each day about 2 miles then gradually increasing the length up to 8 miles.
As my fitness increased I started jogging instead of running without even thinking about it. One day I just started to run to change it up a little and boy did it ever.
Now, I walk for some days and run others.
Then at the beginning of Jan 2020, I started to do Pilates and Yoga to help tone my body. Three months later I also incorporated strength training using free weights we set up in the garage.
Changing the type of exercise prevents me from getting bored and giving up but it also keeps the mind guessing at what you are going to do next.
The problem is our bodies are so efficient that it will eventually find the easiest way to do things which means less energy used and therefore your metabolism goes down. By changing up the exercises regularly it keeps the mind working which burns a lot more energy. This little trick has been known since the 1970s with bodybuilders.
It doesn’t matter what habit you are trying to develop, start small with something achievable and gradually increase what you are doing until you have created the habit you wanted.
ALWAYS keep your main goal in front of you. If you want to get into that swimsuit or dress, then find a picture of someone in it and pin it up around the house.
Share your goals with everyone as well because a shared goal means you are serious to your mind that you really want it and therefore you will get it.
Determine What is Holding You Back
Take some time to figure out what is holding you back. In other words, why haven’t you done this before?
This is the time, to be honest with oneself. Is it because of:
- don’t want it bad enough
- like the food more
- don’t think its physically possible
- they will make fun of me
- they will talk about me especially when I fail
All these negative thoughts have to be crushed, balled up and flushed down the toilet to be gone for good.
If we stick with the exercise theme why is exercise not a part of your life already?
Some people don’t like the idea or have the time to drive to the gym, get changed then work out in public.
If this is the case why not just go for a walk around the block at home or find an exercise video on YouTube and do that in the privacy of your own home.
You can also drive to a park and walk the trails.
You may not be able to fix every part of what you don’t like but you may be able to overcome enough hurdles that you can find a way to incorporate exercise that works for you.
Be creative in finding solutions and the solutions you will find if you want it bad enough.
What If You Fail
I don’t know anybody who mastered something the first time they tried it.
Learning to do anything takes practice. You have to do it over and over until you succeed.
You mustn’t judge yourself harshly or feel guilty when you make a mistake.
Develop a plan to get back on track as soon as possible.
So you neglected to exercise when you were on vacation, make a plan to resume exercising daily when you return home.
Set a schedule, not a deadline. You are creating a new lifestyle not a set result by a certain time.
You are creating a new and improved you. It takes time and effort but it will be worth it.
Adopt a never miss twice attitude. You might miss one workout but you won’t let yourself miss two.
Slipping up on your habits doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you human and a human that is getting closer to their goals each day.
We all have habits both good and bad.
We need to think about what we want in life and determine if those habits will help us reach those goals or hold us back.
I talked about weight loss because it’s one I had struggled with for many years and I know many others are struggling with it as well. I wish I had more time to share more with you but I think the article is plenty long as it is.
The habits you develop must come from the goals you set for yourself. My husband’s goal was to have his own online business which we now do together as a couple and to my surprise I really enjoy it.
I get to write articles for others like you to read and maybe to help some with their struggles.
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Once you established new goals you wish to implement then you need to set a schedule or plan for starting to incorporate this new behaviour into your life.
Start small so we don’t overwhelm ourselves and end up giving up.
Treat it as a lifestyle, not as a hobby or something you will try. You must tell the sub-conscience that this is here to stay.
Gradually increase your efforts until you are achieving the behaviour you want.
Keep doing this new behaviour daily. Persistence is a key component of creating a habit.
Like the adage goes `practice makes perfect`.
While we are not necessarily looking for perfection we are looking at making this new behaviour so much a part of our life that we don’t need to consciously think about doing it anymore, we just do it.
Once that happens it has become a habit.
If we slip, don’t feel guilty, just make a plan to get back on track.
Remember to don’t let yourself miss twice.
Realize you are human and humans make mistakes. Just carry on from here.
I hope this article was helpful with your goals in life. Please share this article with someone you may know that could be struggling themselves.
I would love to hear about your own experiences, you can drop a quick note in the comment section below. I look forward to reading your ideas and I will respond.
Also please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or you need support.
Thank you for reading my article.