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Building Better Habits for Lasting Motivation

We all hate feeling like we’re stuck in a rut. However, you can turn things around by building better habits that support your motivation. Whenever you want to achieve something, building new habits can help you get there. In this article, we're going to explore how habits can impact your motivation and give you some practical tips for building better habits that will keep you motivated for the long haul.

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Understanding Habits

Before we dive into the specifics of building better habits, let's look at what habits are and how they work.

Habits are automatic behaviors that we perform without conscious thought, often triggered by a cue such as a particular time of day or location. They're the result of the brain's tendency to automate repetitive behaviors in order to conserve mental energy.

Habits don’t just happen for some people, especially if you’re neurodivergent. You can build habits, but it takes time and effort. You start with routines, making yourself aware of the things you plan to do repetitively. Do enough, and it usually becomes habit.

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Building better habits for Lasting motivation - in the sand: old habits and new habits with arrows pointing in opposite directions

Impact of Habits on Motivation

Let's dive a little deeper into the impact of habits on motivation. Habits can be good or bad for your motivation.

Good habits can be a powerful tool for increasing motivation and achieving your goals. For example, a daily habit of exercise can increase your energy, improve your mood, and help you feel more confident. Habits like practicing gratitude or regularly setting goals can also help keep you motivated by providing a positive outlook and a sense of progress.

In contrast, bad habits can hinder your motivation and make it difficult to achieve your goals. Procrastination, for example, is a common bad habit that can leave you feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. Similarly, unhealthy habits like smoking or excessive drinking can not only drain your energy levels but also undermine your self-confidence and motivation.

The good news is that bad habits can be broken and replaced with good ones that support your motivation. It takes time and effort to establish new habits, but it's worth it. Start by identifying a bad habit that's negatively affecting your motivation, and work on replacing it with a good one that supports your goals.

Before you can work on replacing your bad habits, though, you need to be aware of what your current habits are, both good and bad.

Identifying Habits

Take a moment to consider your daily routines and habits. You need to do some serious reflection to really identify habits because like I said, they’re automatic. You don’t think about doing them—you just do.

How do you identify your habits?

First, take some time to think about what you do when you wake up, how you spend your time during the day, and what you do before bed. Are there any activities that you do automatically without thinking, like checking your phone or snacking when you're bored? These are examples of habits that may be impacting your motivation.

Another way to identify habits is to track your behavior. Keep a journal or use an app to log your activities throughout the day. Pay attention to what triggers certain behaviors, like checking social media when you're feeling anxious or going for a walk when you need a break from work. These triggers can give you insights into your habits and help you identify which ones are helpful and which ones are not.

Once you've identified your habits, it's important to evaluate them. Are they helping or hurting your motivation? If a habit is negatively impacting your motivation, think about how you can replace it with a more positive habit that supports your goals. For example, if you have a habit of snacking when you're bored, try replacing it with a habit of taking a walk or doing a quick exercise routine.

By identifying and evaluating your current habits, you can start building better habits that support your motivation and lead to lasting change.

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Building Better Habits

Now that you've identified your habits and evaluated which ones are helping or hurting your motivation, it's time to start building better habits.

Here are some tips to help you establish new, positive habits:

Start small:

Trying to change too much at once can be overwhelming and lead to failure. Instead, focus on making small changes to your routine. Choose the one thing that you think that if improved would have the greatest impact on your life.

Make it a routine:

Consistency is key when it comes to building habits. As I mentioned, habits don’t start off as habits. They start with routines. This can be challenging if you struggle with executive dysfunction because you’ll forget to do the thing. Try to do your new habit at the same time every day, so it becomes a natural part of your routine.

New routines new results written above a row of tulips

Track your progress:

Keep track of your progress to help you stay motivated and accountable. Use a journal, app, or habit tracker to log your progress and celebrate your successes along the way.

Get support:

Building new habits can be challenging, but you don't have to do it alone. Enlist the help of a friend or accountability partner to keep you on track and provide encouragement. Or you can join my free Facebook group.

Be patient:

Remember that building better habits takes time and effort. It's normal to slip up now and then, but don't give up. Keep focusing on the positive changes you're making, and you'll soon see the benefits of your efforts.

Use the power of habit stacking:

Habit stacking is the practice of building a new habit on top of an existing one. For example, if you already have a habit of brushing your teeth every morning, you can add a new habit of doing a quick meditation or stretching routine right after brushing your teeth. It’s a way to help you remember to do the new thing.

Use positive reinforcement:

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool for building new habits. Reward yourself for sticking to your new habit. If you use a tracker, you can create milestones for various rewards.

Use visualization techniques:

Visualizing yourself successfully completing your new habit can be a powerful motivator. Take a few minutes each day to visualize yourself successfully completing your new habit, and how it will help you achieve your goals.

By following these tips, you can establish new, positive habits that support your motivation and help you achieve your goals.

Maintaining Habits for Lasting Motivation

The next step is to maintain those habits for lasting motivation. Here are some tips to help you stay on track:

  • Review your progress: Regularly review your progress to ensure you're staying on track and use that progress to celebrate successes. You can also identify areas that need improvement. Use a habit tracker or journal to log your progress and assess your success.
  • Keep it interesting: To prevent boredom or burnout, try to keep your habits interesting and varied. For example, if you're doing the same workout every day, switch it up by trying a new exercise or adding some music to your routine.
  • Prepare for setbacks: Setbacks are a normal part of building new habits, so it's important to be prepared for them. Try to anticipate potential challenges and have a plan in place to overcome them. And whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up for hitting a bump in the road.
  • Stay committed: Building better habits is a lifelong process, so it's important to stay committed to your goals. Remind yourself of the benefits of your new habits and keep making progress, even if it's just a small step forward each day.

Building better habits is key to maintaining lasting motivation, but it's not always easy. By understanding the power of habits, identifying your current habits, and implementing strategies to build better ones, you can create a supportive environment for success. And as always, remember that it’s a process, so be patient with yourself and don’t forget to celebrate your successes along the way.

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