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3 tips for habit development

Sunday, March 03, 2013

As we blog about habits this week, and I have read already many blogs about habit development, I thought to share some experience I gathered in the past two years.

1. A SMALL ACTION goes a long way
Think about a small action to form a new habit. Instead of 1h exercise, just stick to a 10 minutes. Instead of eating healthy meals, stick to eat an apple every day. Once the small action is established in your daily routine, you can scale it up.

>Last year I decided to brush teeth immediately after breakfast, to clean away the food taste from my mouth, and reduce hunger. It sounds like a very silly, and small step towards a healthy lifestyle. However, it had great benefits - it closes the meal, prevents further hunger, encourages me to stay away from food for longer (instead I drink). And, it's great for my teeth!

2. TRACKING is key
I experienced that if I track daily whether I did my new action or not, it increases my success rate to double. It can be different ways of tracking, in a paper diary, on an A4 sheet on the wall, in a smartphone app, or here in SP.

>I have friends, who's natural tendency is to play with Excel sheets in their free time. I don't have this built-in data eating desire, but I realized that tracking improves my success rate, so I do it. Usually I stick a paper on the wall, so I can see it every day.

3. Use a DEFINED PERIOD to form the habit
I see that I need approx. 1 month to arrive to a level when I have almost zero resistance to do my new action, so I usually do 30 day periods. During this period, I do the action no matter what. After this period, if I don't like it in the end, I abandon it, but during this period, I contract myself to do it anyway.

>When I started with running, I decided to get out to run every day for 10 minutes, no matter what. Now, I don't run every day, I think it's healthier for me to run every other day, or to make 5 day strikes and then 2 days off. However, to get into the habit of running, for 30 days, I ran every day. I remember I was on a business trip in Germany during that 30 days. Our meetings finished very late, and by the time I had time for myself, it was already 1 am. I was the only single person in the dark streets, and I only ran 10 minutes exactly, not a second more, but I did it.

Today we went to Lassnitzhöhe, and made a 2h walk in the neighbourhood. The sun was strong, it was fresh, and the air was amazingly clear!

Do you have some tips for habit development from your experience?
Please share it here, I would be happy to hear about it!
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