How to Form a Habit

January 25, 2020
Learning how to form a habit can help you take huge steps towards the projects or goals you want to achieve. In this article, we tell you how to begin.

Many people don’t know how to form a habit. Therefore, although you may have wanted to improve your health, achieve a career goal, and learn another language, among other achievements, you probably never achieved them.

Habits are important to achieve all the things you desire. However, the problem is that you may have made excuses such as “I have no time”, “I lack the motivation”, or “I don’t feel prepared yet”, among others.

What’s a habit?

As we mentioned above, habits are really important because they can guarantee success, orienting you towards achieving the goals you want. Some studies corroborate that a habit is:

“The ability humans have to arrange themselves in a different manner from nature.”

In addition, they point out that:

“In psychology, a habit is an act that’s acquired by experience and performed regularly and automatically.”

A woman meditating in her room.
It isn’t always easy to form a habit. However, it’s essential to do so to achieve what you want to achieve and overcome excuses.

It’s necessary to distinguish between habits and customs, as these terms don’t refer to the same thing. In this sense, while a custom is the repetition of acts that don’t necessarily have to be voluntary or conscious, habits do involve decision-making by the person who decides to learn them.

In other words, habits are acquired by choice and are done consciously. That’s why current theories emphasize that habits…

“…are automated responses based on context”.

The latter definition implies that people learn habits through a process in which memory plays a crucial role, through associative learning.

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How to form a habit

It’s noteworthy that, according to some experts, when a person acquires habits from the family unit, it’s more likely that they’ll keep doing them for the rest of their life.

Children, in some cases, start healthy habits by imitating the behavior of older people around them.

However, since people learn habits, it’s possible to start acquiring one at any time. Below, we’ll point out some tips that can help you form a habit.

1. Think of something you want to achieve

On more than one occasion, you may have wanted to improve some aspect of your life, such as eating healthily, quitting addictions, and starting your routine earlier, among others.

An older woman thinking.
To form a habit, it’s appropriate to clarify what you want to improve. From there, you can start making changes gradually, until they become habits.

2. Start by taking the first step

You don’t have to make major changes in one day. For example, if your goal is to start jogging every morning, jog five or ten minutes the first day. Don’t overexert yourself. You’ll accomplish your goal progressively.

3. Plan your habits well

Avoid doing it in a vague way. For example, instead of saying “I’ll jog tomorrow”, you should say “Tomorrow, I’ll wake up at 6 a.m. and jog for five minutes”. Be specific when it comes to planning habits.

4. Design a plan

Remember that, when you want to form a habit, some excuses will come to mind that will make you want to return to your previous behavior, such as: “It doesn’t matter if I don’t do it today”, “I’ll do it later”, and “I’m feeling too lazy today”, among others. To avoid this, design a plan and have everything ready for when excuses invade your mind.

For example, if you want to enjoy the benefits of meditation, you can prepare the mat the day before and leave the room ready. If you want to jog, have your sportswear ready the night before. If necessary, mute your phone and avoid distractions so that you can focus more.

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5. Set alarms on your phone

These alarms should include a specific task. If it rings at 6 a.m., make sure it notifies you that it’s time to go jogging. You can leave yourself some notes at certain strategic points of your house, such as mirrors or the dining room, to remind you of the tasks.

A woman drinking coffee while looking at her phone.
Setting alarms on your phone can be a useful reminder of the habits you want to form.

6. Keep a record and observe

When you have your plan in place and you’re learning a new habit, you’ll see how good it feels and what you’ve accomplished. This will keep your motivation level high.

Conclusion

Remember that replacing old habits or simply acquiring new habits begins by changing some limiting beliefs. Some people hinder themselves by thinking and saying things such as “this is just how I am”. This belief is very restrictive and can keep you from reaching big goals. Maybe you should start checking your belief system.

  • Alegre, D. E. O. (2015). Hábitos De Vida Saludable. Mapfre-Canal Salud.
  • Suhail Velazquez Cortes. (2009). Hábitos y estilos de vida saludable. Programa Institucional Actividades De Educacion Para Una Vida Saludables.
  • Vidal, G. (1988). Promoción de la salud. Acta Psiquiatrica y Psicologica de America Latina. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-84-458-2404-7.00001-5