As we near the end of the year, creating good habits should be on your radar instead of focusing on a resolution that you might never achieve. People make resolutions all the time, but they’re really more like wishes. Focusing on building good habits will be much more beneficial for you.
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What Makes a Good Habit?
As you think about what you want next year to be like for you, consider the habits you can start building that will help you get there. There are many habits that in general are considered good, but you need to think about what’s good for you. Here are some qualities to consider when choosing new habits to introduce to your life.
You see the purpose
The habit needs to have a real purpose. How will this habit benefit you? If you do yoga every morning because it gives you some quiet time to gather your thoughts and prepare for the day, you’re benefitting from the exercise. If you write in your journal because it helps you process your thoughts and feelings, you are benefitting.
If you have habits or are considering a habit and don’t see the point, the habit isn’t for you, even though it might be a good habit to have. It might be something to think about for a later date. But you shouldn’t do something just because it seems like it would be good.
It’s good for the long and short term
You want to choose habits that will have a quick impact on your life, but you also want to choose ones that will have lasting benefits. For example, you can choose to go on a juice cleanse to lose weight. It will give you that short-term benefit of weight loss. But is it good for the long-term? Is it sustainable?
I don’t think it’s good to live off juice (although I’m not a doctor or nutritionist). I know I would never be happy doing that. I’d too hangry. However, if the juice cleanse and that immediate weight loss acts as a motivator for you to keep eating healthy and lose more weight, it might work for you. Maybe you just need the jump start.
When choosing a habit you want to think about what you will get from it now and what it will give you in the future.
It doesn’t stress you out
Even though a habit is good, it might cause you additional stress. Maybe you know you should work out more. But you don’t enjoy it and the thought of making one more thing fit in your crammed schedule causes tension to tighten every muscle in your body.
That’s not a habit you should take on right now. Sometimes a habit that we know is good for us isn’t something we can implement right now. Maybe it’s too complex or will take too much out of us to do right.
When choosing a new habit, it needs to be something that you can actually do. Setting yourself up for failure will make things more difficult.
Choose One Habit at a Time
Often, when we feel motivated, we think we can do ALL THE THINGS. We’re excited and want to make everything happen. However, this isn’t realistic or sustainable.
When you want to change something about your life by introducing a new habit to meet your goal, you should only introduce one habit at a time. Trying to form multiple new habits at once will be overwhelming. You won’t be able to give each habit the focus and attention you need in order to be successful.
Trying to do too many things at once is setting yourself up for failure and you want to be successful. Remember, quick or easy wins keep us motivated. If you can create a new habit and be successful with it, then you will be more likely to move on to another habit.
If you attempt to do create a bunch of habits, you’ll probably give up. Then, you will be hesitant to try again because you’ll believe you can’t do it.
Remember that the reason you want to create good habits is to help you achieve goals. If you split your focus and attention across multiple habits, you will have a harder time reaching your goal. When you give a habit (and the corresponding goal) your full concentration, it will be easier to stick to it and follow through.
This will allow you to gain momentum and see your progress and celebrate your achievements. This leads me to my last point, which is tracking your habits.
Why should you track your habits?
Once you’ve initiated a good habit, you should track your progress. At first it might seem silly. Why should you take note that you wrote in your journal every day this week? Why does it matter that you drank 64 ounces of water yesterday? Tracking will help you see your progress and help you understand how the new habits is working for you.
It keeps momentum
When you start a new habit, it’s hard. You will forget, and once you forget, it’s even harder to convince yourself to get back into it. Creating good habits takes time to adjust because you are changing something in your life in an ongoing manner. Anyone can get up early once to help a friend out. But getting up at 5 am every day so that you have time to work out? That’s a totally different level of commitment.
Tracking your progress will show you how far you’ve come in your habit building. It can be a constant reminder to keep up the good work.
You can track your progress
While you can simply track the number of days or times you’ve done a habit, it might be more beneficial for you to also track your reaction or reflection on the habit. How is it going? Was working out this morning super hard? Why? Was it easy to get in all your ounces of water today because you took an extra water bottle to work?
Notes on your overall progress can help you see the benefits of the habit and how you are improving.
You can tie it to a goal
Most people create a habit as a means to help them reach a goal. As you work toward building a habit, you are also working toward your goal. Tracking your habit will allow you to mark off the smaller steps you are achieving toward your goal.
Tracking makes adjustments easier
Finally, if you track your progress, it’s easier to figure out when something needs to change. Seeing what is working and what isn’t working will help you decide how to approach your new habit. If you are building a habit and a few weeks in, you decide it’s not working, you won’t know how to adjust if you haven’t tracked anything.
Is it not working because you haven’t been as consistent as you thought you were? Maybe the time of day for the habit doesn’t work for you. If you don’t track your progress, this will be harder to figure out.
Without knowing how to make adjustments, you are more likely to give up on a new habit.
If you're looking for an easy way to track your new habit, check out this bundle of printable habit trackers.
A good habit is any behavior or action that you do on a consistent basis. Good habits are our most powerful tool for self-improvement and success in life. Habits are easy to form and difficult to break. They are the foundation of all progress and change.
When you want to make a change in your life, the most important thing is to start. Start with one small step that you can make each day until you’ve created a pattern of success and excellence. When speaking of habits, outcome is key. The habits that produce the best outcomes are the ones you will stick with for life.
The best time to create a new habit is when you have the most time and energy available. If possible, do it when you wake up. This way, you’ll be able to take advantage of the highest level of energy and mental alertness. Make sure to set a reminder on your phone or calendar to remind yourself throughout the day.
Once you’ve set up your new routine, consistency is key. Track your progress! Not only will you see how well the new habit is working, but you will also get a sense of how difficult it is for you to commit to the new routine in the first place. If you’re able to stay committed and follow through, you’ll see that the new routine will form a new habit for you and become a natural part of your life.