Habits are important because they allow us to fundamentally change the way we live. Over time, we can apply information gained to better streamline ourselves for reaching our goals. Having certain processes in place makes picking up new habits and ensuring new habit quality simple.
Habits are difficult to acquire for several reasons.
First, there are conflicting sources citing the length of time required for a repeated action to become sufficiently ingrained such that it is a habit 1, 2, 3. For me, a habit is something I do without thinking or consistently with infrequent compromise and ease.
Second, it is difficult to pinpoint when, exactly, a repeated action ceases to be a potential habit. This information is helpful for deducing why this happened and how it might be prevented in the future.
Third, understanding that a habit is indeed a good one and therefore worthwhile picking up is occasionally difficult.
Therefore to fix these, it is important to have
- An evaluation process on whether or not a repeated action has become a habit (useful for estimating the rate at which you may pick up new habits in the future); solves issue 1
- A periodic check to (a) re-evaluate whether a repeated action is still worthwhile or (b) remind you to keep with the potential habit; solves issue 2
- A selection process for choosing new potential habits to minimize time wasted; solves issue 3
- If the habit you want to pick up has something you can log or is aesthetically pleasing, then you can accumulate these to build up a record. Over time, losing the streak built in the record can incentivize you to continue with the habit. A good example here is crossing off days that you’ve worked out on a visible calendar.
- If you’re susceptible to peer pressure and peer shame, then telling your friends may help to discourage yourself from being a hypocrite.
- Sharing the habit building process with friends/family and building them side by side may be helpful for having someone else encourage you to keep it up.
- Keep an easily visible checklist for when you need to do things/potential orderings.