New habits have routinely started in January or on a Monday, but there is no timeframe to start making lifestyle changes. This may be the first year that you have looked within yourself, or you might have already started working on personal development. Whether this is new or old territory, creating habits can start whenever you get a hunch that your behaviors are no longer serving you.
Our brains are wired to play out old patterns when we don’t feel safe or are in survival mode. Accept that this may happen and learn to take action to create new habits instead. This normally takes as long as it takes and exercising self-discipline can be a way to get started. When you break down lofty goals into bite-sized pieces, things become much more manageable.
Go easy on yourself. Productivity doesn’t mean success, so the goal is not to add more to your plate, it is to take action where needed and let go of what no longer makes sense.
Creating new habits like resting more, starting a meditation practice, or building a community of reliable friends can all come to fruition with these 5 tips.
1. Commit to your goal.
Write it down, post it on a wall, or say it out loud; the how does not matter but the ease and effort you put behind your goals do. Self-discipline is key when it comes to committing to a goal. If you make a promise to yourself, fulfill it so that you can build trust going forward.
If you wish to create new financial habits and paying off debt is part of your goal, make a commitment to yourself to do that. This may mean you use the 72-hour rule when making purchases (holding an item in your online cart) to deter impulse buying. This could look like allocating a certain amount of money to spend on frivolous and fun expenditures each month, and cutting yourself off once you meet your cap. You can do this with any goal, but committing through self-discipline is a way to get started.
There are many things that can get in the way of prioritizing, setting goals, or even figuring out where to start. Anxiety, depression, ADHD, stress, feeling overwhelmed, fear, and unhelpful stories we tell ourselves “I’ll start that later/in January/next week/…” “I never stick to my goals” are a few. Notice if one or some of these might make committing to your goals more challenging. Take a look at the additional resources provided below to see if they might be helpful for you.
2. Surround yourself with supportive people.
The messaging you tell yourself each day is the most important, but what you hear from others impacts you too. If you are the most successful person in your friend group, notice how you navigate superiority and inferiority with your peers. If you are consistently around people who aren’t supportive in what you are trying to do, ask yourself if you are convinced of that too.
Often, people attract qualities in others that they believe about themselves. This is an opportunity to look within and build your support system from inside of you. Supportive friends and family want to hear from you and about the habits you are creating. Share your progress with someone else to keep yourself accountable. You can reassure yourself while accepting love from others. Creating new habits takes time, so it is helpful to surround yourself with supportive people as a way to check-in with yourself.
3. Learn from your mistakes.
It’s easy to get caught up in the notion that you need to know everything and have the answers. Sometimes the only answer is that there are none or that answers can change based on how you evolve. It’s okay to make mistakes, big, small, or both. You will make many in your lifetime, so it is better to accept that they are coming rather than pretend they don’t exist.
Perfectionism is impossible. Accept the gifts of progress. A mistake that keeps happening over and over again is a lesson that you really needed to learn. If you are frustrated with a mistake, take a moment to reflect on what you could have done differently. When you feel yourself doing the same thing, pause instead. Invite breath into your body. Stay present.
During this process, self-talk might sound like:
“Hey, this is the thing that you really hate doing, and you are doing it again. Let’s try a new habit. Let’s sit with the emotions. Let’s be kind because it is okay to make mistakes.”
It may sound funny when you think about the voice inside your head, but when you tune in, you will realize it is talking to you all the time. Let the words you choose echo self-love.
4. Stay humble.
Your ego loves to take charge of the situation to help you stay safe and in survival mode. Perhaps, your survival depended on old habits like hypervigilance, people pleasing, or profusely apologizing. When you are able to thank the old habits for keeping you alive, you can truly get well.
Freedom comes when humility is learned. This can go in either direction, inflation or deflation of ego. Deprecation can be as damaging to self and others as arrogance. Victimhood can be an ailment of the ego when it is a go-to habit after pain occurs.
Notice what you notice and keep yourself balanced. You are neither horrible nor wonderful for going into old habits. Staying humble will help you keep an open mind and present opportunities for change.
5. Take a class that builds your skills.
Sometimes, you have to rely on professionals to help you learn and build new skills. If you don’t know how to do something, discovering through education is a way to learn. There is a plethora of free classes available online, especially during the pandemic.
Allow yourself to ask for help. It is a humbling experience to realize you may not know everything, but discerning whether you would rather be right or fulfilled can be a step in creating a new habit. Asking for help through a class is a small step that can build courage to repeat the action.
There is a wide range of online classes including personal development skills, cooking, knitting, well-being, meditation, communication, etc. from several websites. An online search is a good place to start. Some favorite skill building websites include Coursera, SkillShare, The Great Unlearn, and Craftsy.
Creating new habits may take time and energy, but the results can be life changing. If you are stuck in a rut with old patterns, it may be time to create a new habit. If you are venturing into getting to know yourself more, make goals around new patterns you want to begin. It takes a lifetime to live a lifetime, so working on yourself is never wasted. By committing, you are better equipped for a fulfilling life with healthy habits that last.
For more guidance on creating habits that will last, check out these posts:
How To Make Lasting Changes With ADHD/ADD
Face Your Fears: Change Your Life
Social Distancing: What To Do With All Your Time At Home
What Are Boundaries And Why Are They Important? Learn To Set and Keep Boundaries.
Financial Care Is Self Care: Tips To Help You Manage Financial Stress And Take Care Of You
Don’t Underestimate The Power In Letting Go
4 Tips For Managing Depression When It’s Hard
From The Therapy Couch: Some Tips From People Who Struggle With Anxiety
3 Ways To Survive As A Family With Teens In Our “New Normal”
Denver Metro Counseling is a group of clinicians who provide therapeutic support for teens, adults, parents, and families. We help people learn to build positive relationships through identifying and building boundaries with themselves and others.
Click on the links below for more information:
Young Adult Counseling
Support for Therapists
Help For Depression
Substance Use and Recovery Support
Trauma Therapy and EMDR