With the new year just beginning, this is the right time to form new, more productive habits. In this post, we take a look at some scientifically proven tips to boost the habit-formation process.
The time it will take you to build a new habit can vary considerably, depending on many factors. Some of the elements that may affect the speed with which you pick a new habit include your stress levels, the complexity of the new habit, and how old is the behavior you want to change. According to a 2010 study, creating a new habit can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days (or eight months, give or take), so be patient!
The Ingredients of Habit Formation
In the minds of most people, changing a habit is a matter of sheer willpower. Wendy Wood, research psychologist author of the book Good Habits, Bad Habits, offers a different approach. According to Wood, the most important ingredients of habit-formation are ease and reward, not willpower. Willpower is what kick-start the process, but the ease of the new habit and the rewards you give yourself are what keep you going until the habit sticks.
Ease and Reward in Practice
“Making a new habit easy” is easier said than done. Adopting new behaviors is almost always hard by definition. How to take the edge off adopting a new routine?
To make your new habit easy, remove any obstacles you might use as an excuse to not perform the new habit. For example, if you want to stop eating junk food, begin by giving away any unhealthy food you have at home and creating new routes that help you avoid passing in front of your favorite fast-food restaurants during your day-to-day routine.
As for rewards, find ways to make you new habit more pleasant. For example, if you want to read more books, play music you love or slip your feet into a foot massager while you do it. If you associate your new behavior with an experience that brings you joy, you’ll soon find yourself looking forward to perform the habit you are forming.
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