Understanding how to build new habits is essential for making progress in your life in general. According to the best-selling author James Clear, there are three easy ways to form better habits.
Everybody wants a transformation. Everybody wants a radical improvement, a rapid success. But what we often fail to realize is that small habits and little choices are transforming us every day already.
According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviors on any given day.
Step 1: Build a New Habit Strategy
This strategy is divided into five actions:
- Start with a really small habit.
- Pick a new habit that is easy enough that you don’t need the motivation to do it. Rather than start reading 50 pages per day, start with 5 pages per day. Rather than trying to run for 30 minutes per day, start by running for 5 minutes per day.
Make it easy enough that you can get it done without motivation. When most people struggle to build new habits, they think that they need more motivation. This is the wrong approach. Research shows that motivation is like a muscle. It gets fatigued as you use it throughout the day. If you’d like to learn more about the concept of motivation you can listen to our seminar about it.
- The next step is to increase your habit in a very small way. Rather than trying to do something amazing from the beginning, start small and constantly improve. Along the way, your willpower will increase, which will make it easier to stick to your habit for good.
- Then take some time to consider what will prevent your habit from happening. Knowing yourself already in this kind of situations ask yourself the following questions:
- How can you self-sabotage?
- What are some things that are likely to get in your way?
- What are these things in your environment that are likely to pull you off course?
- How can you plan to work around these issues?
Do not pursue perfection, but consistency. You know the saying:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
5. Learn how to be patient. New habits should feel easy, especially at the beginning. If you stay consistent and continue reinforcing your habit it will get stable enough.
Master Your Mindset
Step 2: Follow the 3r’s of Habit Change
Have a reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior), routine (the behavior itself; the action you take), and reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior).
This helpful pattern can make it easier to stick to new habits so that you can improve in every aspect of your life where you seek to change.
Step 3: Change Your Beliefs about Your Identity
Why? Because the key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously).
What we called this in coaching is “limited belief” on the level of identity. To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself.
For example, if you want to create a habit that allows you to play poker more hours per day, this is a process focused on what you do. And it requires a lot of energy to constantly exercise your new habit and eventually at some point you might get tired.
But focusing on who you wish to become as a poker player is a different approach that will empower you to be consistent with your goal because it serves a higher purpose.
The bottom line is that habits take some time to create, but they form faster when we do them more often, so start with something reasonable that is easy to do. And something very important when it comes to building a new habit: Don’t forget to reward yourself.
Master Your Mindset
Rewards Are a Crucial Part of Habit Formation
Find your own way to reward yourself in a manner that will make you feel happy and release some dopamine, so that you can trick your brain and make it want to repeat the habit.
And keep in mind that you don’t break a bad habit, you replace it. Because bad habits address a need of yours. If you expect yourself to simply cut out bad habits without replacing them, then you’ll have certain needs that will be unmet and it’s going to be hard to stick to a routine for very long.
So the first step to breaking a bad habit is gaining awareness regarding the need that stays behind it.
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