5 Steps to Unlocking the Power of Habit

the power of habit

The power of habit is the underlying driving force behind how we live our lives. We all have habits, traits and behaviors we would like to change or improve. Unfortunately, it seems that forming poor habits is often easier than forming good ones. How many of us are guilty of making New Year’s resolutions to change habits, only to have them forgotten by the middle of the year.

In order to change any habit successfully, it’s important to understand how they are formed. Armed with the simple truths about forming habits, its possible to make lasting change. In fact, forming new habits should become a pleasurable process full of fun. Below are my six steps to unlock the power of habit in your life.

the power of habit -clarity

Unlock the Power of Habit – Step #1 – Get Specific

A vague intent to change is not going to work when it come to forming new habits. Therefore, start by creating a very clear message of intent around your new habit. So, to unlock the power of habit. you must get really clear and specific about what trait or behavior you want to change.  Then, write it down in a planner or journal where you can see them every day. Write your new trait or behavior in the form of a positive affirmation and reflect on these statement every day. Now, it’s time to learn how to commit to changing your habits and making them last.

the power of habit -commitment

Unlock the Power of Habit – Step #2 – Commit

Once you have created a clear written message of intent around forming a new trait, make a commitment to take action. Each day, review your statement of intent and imagine how great you will feel when this new habit is formed. It takes some energy and passion to keep going. Psychologists believe that habits form over a period of time. A new habit needs to be repeated regularly for at least thirty days before it becomes routine.

Therefore, make a commitment in writing with your message of intent that you will take action to form your new habit for at least thirty days. Finally, make sure you take action every day and don’t break the chain of change. In fact, mark every day off on a calendar as a visual aid to your commitment to daily action. Now, it’s time to learn how to handle even big changes.

the power of habit -micro-steps

Unlock the Power of Habit – Step #3 – Go Micro

The next  element to unlock the power of habit is to go micro. If we try to sustain a big change we are more likely to fail, which is why New Years’ resolutions rarely work. Therefore, look at the new habit you want to form and start very very small. Take small actions every day towards creating the new habit. If you try to make big habit change, it’s very easy to overwhelmed. If you become overwhelmed, or find your enthusiasm dropping, chances are your habit may be too big to achieve in one step. So. break it down into micro-steps and take tiny actions every day.

By starting small, we can sustain our excitement and passion for change by experiencing regular small wins. Therefore, starting small helps us to experience small wins which helps us to feel positive about the change we are making. As human beings, we tend to avoid perceived pain and prefer to experience pleasure. Therefore, make this change process  as pleasurable as possible by injecting fun and positive emotions into the process. Daily repetition of behaviors while you invoke positive emotions are key to creating new positive habits that last. Now, it’s time to learn how you can improve your odds of success in forming new habits.

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Unlock the Power of Habit – Step #4 – Improve the Odds

To improve your odds of developing new habits, work out a simple reward system to increase your feelings of success. Staying positive about your habit change is vital for successful change.  As outlined above, we want to accentuate the pleasure we experience and remove any perception of pain which creates avoidance.

Therefore develop your own reward system. These don’t have to be massive rewards, but can be as simple as time out to complete a non-work task, or an extra break to walk in nature. The key here is to have a whole list of small rewards that mean something to you. Armed with these small rewards, you can improve your odds of staying on track and staying positive. Next, it’s important to adjust your environment to encourage your new habit formation.

the power of habit -environment

Unlock the Power of Habit – Step #5 – Physical Adjustment

Along the journey to forming new habits, you may notice that bad habits may divert your attention. Learn to become mindful of when this is happening and make some physical adjustments to overcome this. Let’s say the new habit you are working on is about doing regular study about a new interest or skill. You may find yourself preferring to read emails or check social media.

Therefore, when you become aware of this preference, simply adjust your physical environment. Leave your study material around so you can see it and it’s easy to access. Conversely, put your source of distraction in another room so you have to make an effort to retrieve it.

So, make sure you adjust your personal environment so that access to resources that support your new habit are visible and easily accessible. Also, remove any item or resource that creates an opportunity to avoid your new habit actions. Now, it’s important to learn the power of repetition and adapting our plans.

the power of habit -repetition

Unlock the Power of Habit – Step #6 – Rinse and Repeat

The final element to unlock the power of habit is ongoing positive repetition. Habits take time and energy to form.  Therefore, commit to make micro changes every day over at least thirty days or longer. If you feel yourself avoiding this new habit creation, simply rinse and repeat these steps until you get back on track.

What Next?

All habits are first created in our mind and then transferred into the world as behavior.  Therefore, if you are serious about forming great new habits, it’s important to understand how our mind shapes our experience of life. Our minds are also impacted by stress and strong emotions, so understanding how to manage these is also important.

Therefore, you may benefit from reading some related posts…

Mindful Living – 7 Tactics for Living Powerfully

17 Daily Affirmations for Self-Empowerment





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