From Dictionary.com: Habit: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. The hope here, of course, is that habits are good healthy ones. All though most of us focus on New Years resolutions to modify our habits, any time of the year is prime time. In fact, embracing behavior modification on a steady basis is commendable. Let’s look at 5 ways to form good new habits.
- Use a system of cues and rewards. “We form a habit when we repeatedly do a certain action in the presence of a particular cue,” Benjamin Gardner who is a professor of psychology at King’s College in London. A cue can be anything as long as it is as specific as possible. When I so much as touch the leash that I keep on a side table in the living room, my dog, a Black-Mouth Cur, gets whacko. He knows a 5-mile walk is in our immediate future. The reward can be anything. A long shower at the gym after a workout was my reward before the COVID-19 pandemic shut it all down and turned us all into anchorites.
- Learn the concept of if-then thinking. This can take the form of an affirmation. For example, you might say, “if I just fed the dogs, then it’s time to take my blood pressure medicine.” This one works for me every day.
- Take your time, no pressure. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are new good habits. Just keep working on it and sooner or later the “involuntary” magic happens.
- Learn to be a choice architect. This is a somewhat nebulous term but it simply means making things easy to do. For example, keep a bottle of Vitamin C and Zinc next to your water bottle on your desk during flu season. You are much more likely to take them than if they are on a kitchen shelf or in your medicine cabinet.
- Check your progress and adjust your behavior accordingly. Make time each week to evaluate your goals. Are you having success? If not, try injecting some smaller, incremental goals. Developing new habits is not always going to be easy. If they were easy it wouldn’t take reinforcement.
Self help is a huge deal. That’s the reason there are so many books published on the topic. It’s right up there with weight loss. Following these 5 ways to form new good habits will get you on the road to a brand-new improved you. Start today and invest in yourself.
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About the Author:
Kelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.