We're all creatures of habit, so the saying goes. But what does it take to build new ones that stick? In our newest guide Creating healthy habits that last: your five-step blueprint, we unpack the steps you need to take to make small changes that add up to big results.
If you’re anything like us, the last year or so might not have looked exactly like you were expecting in terms of personal growth. You might have kicked things off last January, full of good intentions. “I’ll run three times a week,” you resolved. “I’ll eat more healthily. I’ll be a better parent or spouse. I’ll meditate more, and I’ll go to bed earlier.”
Fast-forward a few months, and after a tough day at work, parenting, or both, running, cooking a nutritious meal or meditating may be the last things on your mind. And whether your new routines and best intentions have been disrupted by the onset of a global pandemic, or because life has just gotten in the way of achieving your goals, we’re here to tell you that it’s perfectly normal.
But how can we form new habits that stand the test of time – and that help us thrive physically, emotionally, and mentally? It’s all about understanding the psychological processes that need to occur when cementing a new action or behaviour – and then translating those into manageable changes that fit in with your lifestyle.
How we form new habits
From brushing our teeth each morning to putting our seatbelt on in the car, we all have habits. Some of these are actions we're not conscious of doing, while others, such as going to the gym, might take a little more thought to accomplish.
All of our habits are formed by repetitive behaviours, which draw on clues from our environment. Over time, and with a little repetition, these behaviours become ingrained and automatic.
The way we form habits can be broken down into three stages:
- Cue: A stimulus in our internal or external environment that triggers us to take action.
- Routine: This is the habit or action we want to perform.
- Reward: Our brain receives a reward for taking part in the desired action.
We can explore how this works in a simple example, like brushing our teeth. Our cue here would be either waking up or going to bed, while our routine sees us reaching for the toothbrush and toothpaste, and giving our teeth a good brush. The reward for accomplishing this is a fresher-feeling mouth and prevention of tooth decay.
The length of time it takes to form a new habit depends entirely on the activity – which is why it might take a little longer to pick up running than something like drinking more water each day.
Your five-step blueprint
Understanding the science behind how we form habits is just the first step in making some positive changes in your life. To help you on your journey to building new routines that stick, we’ve teamed up with behaviour change specialist Dr Heather McKee. In our newest downloadable guide, Creating healthy habits that last: your five-step blueprint, you will learn the tools to help you understand how we build habits, including five steps to cementing small changes that add up to big results.
In this guide, you will learn:
- The psychology of building habits
- Why the 21-day myth might be setting you up to fail
- Five steps to follow to make changes that last
Click the button below to download our guide and take your first step towards making some small, impactful changes.