We all know the scenario – we desperately want to make changes but, no matter how hard we try, we find ourself slipping back to our old habits. What’s going on with this? Why does it all go wrong? How come it’s so hard to create a new habit?
Discover the 3 essential steps to make a new habit stick, along with the single reason why we usually fail.
What’s the single biggest reason why we don’t manage to change a habit?
Because we hadn’t really chosen to make the change.
The easiest way to create habit is to choose to do it.
I know that probably sounds stupid, but it’s amazing how often we try and create a habit, when we haven’t really bought into the change we want to make. We are doing it because somebody else tells us to or we think we ought to.
The easiest way to create habit is to really understand why you want to do it. Then all you need to do is create a rhythm in your day; a routine; something that will remind you to do it and something that will help you celebrate the fact that you did. It also helps to track how you are making progress.
The 3 steps to a new habit:
- Inspiration is what gives us the idea to get started.
- Motivation really gets us going.
- But it is routine and consistent efforts that, together, create the change.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. It could be someone you know, something you read, or even a dream. It’s like the firing pistol, to start your mission to make that change. But it can be hard to move from inspiration to actually getting started.
That’s where motivation comes in. Motivation is like the fuel that moves us to action. It’s the first step of dreams becoming reality. Knowing why you want to make the change can often help you get through this stage and keep you motivated. But, again, that fuel is finite, especially if it’s taking a while to see results.
So to create lasting change, you need something else: routine. The discipline to keep going and turn your first steps into a rhythm – a routine – is what makes the difference between a ‘nice idea’ and a new habit.
Ancient Sanskrit (the language in which many of the ancient meditation & yogic practices were originally taught) has a special word for this consistent effort: abhyasa. Without abhyasa, even the most enthusiastic student is unlikely to see tangible progress. So motivating yourself to allow your new habit to become part of your daily routine is crucial for achieving the results you are looking for.
Discipline – abhyasa – is about doing what needs to be done, even if you’re not in the mood.
Think about how you would normally motivate yourself to do something. What has worked for you in the past? How did you remind yourself? What kinds of incentives worked?
How did you create and then establish the change in your routine?
Apply what you know works for you and then, over time, as your skill improves, you’ll find you really start enjoying your 10 minutes of meditation. You’ll find yourself looking forward to it. You’ll crave it, and your old habit will just fall away.
It’s not about fighting and ‘getting rid of’ the old habit. It’s about gently cultivating the new habit, so that the old habit becomes redundant. Then it’s easy to let it go!
Creating a new habit is as much about remembering to do it as it is about how you do it.
Once you see positive results, your new habit will become self-sustaining. While you are getting to that point, the routine and the habit are the key. It’s about gently, but firmly, conditioning yourself to expect the new behaviour.
For example if you have a habit of buying a doughnut every time you walk past the bakers at 11 o’clock in the morning, your body and mind become conditioned to expect it. Your body and mind will even give you signals, to remind you to go past the bakers, if you forget to on a day.
It is the same with any new behaviour. Getting into the rhythm – the routine – of it is what turns it from an “I must remember to…” into a subconscious, automatic habit.
So the rhythm, the routine and the habit are what create the change – and that is what will get you the results you are looking for.
Is there a change you want to make right now? Is there a habit you want to cultivate?
How about having your say via the comments box, below? And perhaps letting us all know how you could use abhyasa – the discipline of cultivating the new routine – to help your dreamed changes become your new reality?