You already know from experience that anything in life worth having takes a lot of work. Whether it is growing in your career, learning a new skill, or even building lasting relationships, you have to put in some effort to achieve the things that matter to you. Good habits are essential to any effort you make to grow because most of the things you do on a daily basis happen on autopilot.
How to Make Good Habits a Part of Your Lifestyle
Your Environment and Lifestyle are Key Factors in Making Good Habits Stick
But here’s something you might not be aware of: up to 40 percent of your daily activities not only happen on autopilot, but they happen in exact same way in the same environment. Yes, it’s true – you are living in your own version of Groundhog Day. Your routines are the same, and your environments are the same, which is why it is critical that you make sure your surroundings and lifestyles are designed to work for you, not against you.
Think about it: when was the last time you made a positive change in your life when your environment was messy and chaotic? Most likely never because it is very hard to make your life better when you are surrounded by roadblocks and distractions.
If you are serious about creating good habits, here are five simple things to focus on that will make the road easier. Oh, and a heads up, be sure to download the FREE Building Good Habits Worksheet at the end to incorporate these tips into your life immediately.
#1 Be Clear About the Quality of Life You Desire
The pursuit of good habits is often tied to a deep desire to improve the quality of one’s life. For instance, if you want to build healthy food habits into your lifestyle, living a long life without chronic illness or body discomfort may factor in to your decisions. Or, if you want to wake up earlier for work, that habit might be tied to your desire to grow in your career, make more money, or devote time before work to something that makes your day better.
Behind every decision you make there is a larger desire tied to the quality of life you ultimately want. If you can be super clear about the life you want, it will make it easier to pursue good habits and make them stick.
Choices lead to habits. Habits become talents. Talents are labeled gifts. You're not born this way, you get this way.
— Seth Godin
#2 Build a Supportive Network
A key aspect of your environment that you should never overlook is who you spend time around.
As mentioned above, your lifestyle is built on habits that happen in the same place day after day, and unless you are a complete hermit somewhere on a mountain, chances are there are other people in those places. It is super important that you surround yourself with people who support you in your pursuits.
You don’t have to make an announcement that you are integrating new habits into your lifestyle or anything like that. But it doesn’t hurt to provide and seek out supportive encouragement from others. For instance, that coworker that always sends you the funny memes during your lunch break isn’t wasting your time because studies show that humor at work reduces stress and leads to positive outcomes.
Who are some of the people in your life right now who make you better? Who makes you laugh or picks you up when you are having a bad day? Who are the people you call or text when you have good news to share? When building good habits, keep these people in mind so you can ensure you are surrounded in your environment with those who lift you up.
#3 Become a Gratitude Addict
Maintaining a sense of gratitude is one of the most reliable ways to health, happiness, and success. According to studies, people who incorporate a gratitude based journaling practice exhibit decreased depression and health outcomes. Also, gratitude is helpful in forming good habits because it helps you fill in the space where the bad habits once resided, which is referred to as the Habit Replacement Loop.
For instance, let’s say your usual wake-up consists of moaning under your breath about how much you hate mornings and how you aren’t a morning person. You could simply say that you are going to build the habit of no negative self-talk in the morning. But what fills that void where the grumbling once was? A simple thanks for another day.
A lifestyle of gratitude, of giving thanks for all of the many good things you are surrounded with, is one of the easiest ways to incorporate a good habit immediately into your lifestyle. Remember, good habits are ultimately the things you do that make you a better person. Good habits attract the good, and repel the destructive.
The next time you find yourself struggling with creating good habits, do an assessment to see if you are prioritizing gratitude in your environment. Do you start your day writing what you are grateful for? Do you end your day with reflecting on all that you have? Don’t skimp on flooding your life with gratitude. It really is one of the easiest ways to transform your environment and an essential element of work life harmony.
To make a change in our behavior, means we’re adding something, or subtracting something, and we have to figure out what that is.
— Christine Whelan
#4 Move Your Body
One of the undisputed good habits that improve your life is daily movement. It’s not about being some fitness freak that lifts heavy weights or runs marathons every day. It is enough to engage in a few strenuous physical activities every week to increase the oxygen in your blood and help you increase the level of endorphins in your body. If you acquire this habit, you’ll feel physically better, also increase your inner motivation.
Most people can stick with an exercise program for week here or a day or two there without a problem. The main issue is that good habits require consistency. This is why we recommend writing out your daily activities by using a routine checklist for your morning and evening routines. Writing out your routines gives you an opportunity to review the things that you do every single day and find those hidden sabotaging things in your routine that keep you from doing the things you want to do to improve your habits.
For instance, let's say you want to a morning run into your daily routine, but you don’t believe you have anytime. By writing out your morning routine, you find that you are spending on average 1.5 hours playing video games before work, when you thought in your head it was just twenty minutes occasionally. When you write things out, it becomes a reality, one that you can work on changing.
Again, when it comes to physical activity consistency is going to be more important than intensity. Do your best to come up with a schedule that works for you initially and then revisit it approximately every 90 days to see if it's still challenging to your mind and body.
A lifestyle of gratitude, of giving thanks for all of the many good things you are surrounded with, is one of the easiest ways to incorporate a good habit immediately into your lifestyle.
#5 Take A Break From Work
Creating new habits takes time and energy. According to some studies, it can take up to 254 days for a habit to stick. Forming new habits when you are busy at work or with personal projects is a recipe for failure, which is why it’s important to clear as much off of your plate as you possibly can.
For instance, if you want to create the habit of a daily walk, you probably need to make adjustments to your schedule that require focus and attention. If possible, pick a time to jumpstart a habit when you are likely to not have a ton of distractions at home or work. For example, if you know you have a summer vacation coming up that will last a week or two, that would be a great time to map out and slowly implement a walk into your daily routine.
If you don’t have a vacation or time off from work on the agenda, another thing you can do is integrate your new habit loop into your daily breaks from work. You see, work breaks are essential for your brain and body. When you work, you are engaging your prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for your decision making and cognitive functioning. Taking breaks helps you improve focus, which is essential for habit formation.
An overworked mind can’t function optimally, and it can’t implement new habits. Remember to take time out throughout your day to take breaks from everything. Sit still. Meditate. Look at a sunset. Close your eyes. Whatever it is that you enjoy for rest and relaxation.
Pulling It All Together
Good habits don't just happen in life. It takes hard and intentional work to change the things you do everyday. However, if you can commit to lifestyle and environment changes, you can ensure that new habit loops can form that help you reach your goals.
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