A new year marks a great time to begin building new (productive) habits- after all, it feels like a fresh start and like anything is possible. Implementing a new habit isn’t all that difficult. It just takes some discipline and if the habit you intend to implement is a productive one, it certainly is worth the effort.
Research from Duke University shows that much of our everyday actions are characterized by habitual repetition, so if a new habit is on the horizon, it makes sense that repetition would help to create a new habit. So, if things don’t come naturally to you, like regular sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, or being organized, it might help to try out a few techniques to help you solidify them as part of your daily routine.
Research sited in the Harvard Business Review suggests trying some of the tips below to help you on your journey to forming new habits by repetition of routines.
Tip 1: Determine your intentions
It is important to be realistic about the process that you would need to follow in order to create a habit out of a particular action. For example, eating an unhealthy breakfast might be easier and faster to replace with a healthier option than committing to exercising every day at a particular time.
Actions that take more effort may take more time, so the process you follow needs to be done in such a way that you don’t set yourself up for failure. Being realistic with your intentions and expectations will help you to stay motivated should any challenges arise.
Tip 2: Prepare for challenges
Ximena Vengoecha, a researcher, suggests that it’s important to “… familiarize yourself with your own blockers now so that you can quickly identify and manage them when they arise later on, because they will”.
In light of this, reflect the past and ask yourself why you haven’t regularly practiced a certain behaviour- what has stopped you in the past, was it fear or shame, or a lack of time? Figuring out what challenges prevented you from previously succeeding can help you to plan for success and overcome any obstacles that may come your way.
Tip 3: Start small
There are practical steps that you can take to make sure that you start off strong when it comes to implementing your new routine(s).
Make a schedule: Set aside time in your calendar every day or every other day to practice the behaviour that you’d like to make a habit. This can be done in different ways- you can link it to your email or phone calendar, set an alarm on your phone, or use an app to help remind you.
Set micro habits: These are small adjustments that help you to move closer to achieving your goals, similar to stepping-stones on the way to your final destination. For example, if your goals is to get better quality sleep, keep books or magazines next to your bed rather than your phone. Blue light from our screens can impede a good night’s rest, so it would be wiser to leave your phone on the farthest side of your room away from arm’s reach before going to sleep.
Try temptation bundling: This concept was coined by a researcher, Katie Milkman, that involves bundling together something that you enjoy doing and something that you don’t. This can help to make obligatory tasks more pleasant. For example, if your goal is to exercise, bundle it together with something you enjoy like listening to an audio book.
When you’re working toward building a new habit, remember to be compassionate with yourself. Long-term change will take time and you need to remind yourself that you’re embarking on a new journey that may include challenges so be easy on yourself and don’t quit if you stumble along the way. Let your tools be your guide and face the challenges.
At ICG Medical we’re so committed to helping our team build the life that they want, that we’ve even got a Wellness Manager who can help you on your journey to well-being. If you want to join a team that cares and treats you like family, take a look at some of our vacancies and get applying!