7 ways to build a new habit with ease!

Habits are hard to make, and harder to break, but finally it will be our habits that make or break us.
Sandhya Nagaraj
Published on: 13th July 2015
Be it jogging in the mornings or yoga in the evenings, be it starting to eat right or quitting smoking, be it playing a new game or quitting old thinking habits, below are tips that will ease you into your new routines instead of being like a cold water splash!

1. Make it PERSONAL: Make note of WHY you want to build a new habit/break an old one, and make that ‘Why’ personal. Don't lose 5 pounds just because your cholesterol will be within limits, lose 8 pounds so that you can feel as light as you really want to feel! Don't read for half an hour a day as an ordeal, read for an hour and read like a maniac for that hour. Personalize your habits, and watch yourself sway towards them with grace!

2. Give no excuses: You can either give in and give up or you can keep it going. It really is that simple. When you remove the hundreds of options you generally keep for yourself from the table, and keep just one, where you have NO option but to get that one hour of reading done or one mile of jogging done or whatever habit you're building or breaking, you will be astounded with your results.
3. Find people who have the same habit/s you wish to have: You play Fur Elise and the person beside you responds with equal delight about hearing that tune! You go for a jog daily and you've got those few regulars waving at you by Day 5. You join a literature club and you've got people who get literature the same way as you do. Now, imagine playing a song as divine as that one and having a companion yawn (for Fur Elise, just not possible, but you get my point). Imagine being all enthusiastic about getting into your running shoes while your friends play FIFA or counter strike on the laptop. You'll find it way easier to stick to a habit when you've got company. Find people who do what you do, and find yourself comfortably conquering a new habit!

4. Find small hacks that work for you, and use them: Everyone will have something that works for them. For example, when I decided to learn French on Duolingo (an awesome app by the way), I set my daily target to be 50 points. Day after day, the owl on Duolingo notified me that I was on a 5-day streak, 6-day streak and so on. Just that tiny Owl, declaring my streaks had me going. I wouldn't want it to go back to zero the next day, because that's how habits work. You drop one day, and to get back the rhythm, you'll be starting right at square one.

5. Have patience: Magical things take time to happen. You won't look like a cover page model if you're obese and have exercised just a week. You might hardly see any results in fact, and you might even see only the pain points of this habit you so wished to inculcate a few days ago. Ice does not become water without consuming the latent heat, the axe cannot cut the tree at the first ninety-nine strikes, and neither can you see concrete results until you complete a solid term with your new set of behaviours or actions. Keep patience, and keep faith.
6. Use the right phrases: You might think that "I won't eat junk food any longer" might be a great statement to tell your friends of the habit you're trying to break. Only it isn't. "I will quit smoking", "I will not drink alcohol", "I will not gossip", "I will not be a couch potato"..., the list is endless. And, it’s completely the wrong way of phrasing. When you say "I won't eat junk food..." your brain pictures "junk food", making it want more of that. When you say "won't smoke", oops! Your brain is picturing the cigarettes. Use the right affirmations: "I'm switching to healthy eating", "I drink green tea twice a day now", or "I walk more during the day". These words will make your brain picture healthy foods, green tea, and walking. Win, win, and win!

7. The Golden Rule of 21 days: Every single habit I have ever successfully inculcated is by following this rule. The rule is simple- whatever habit you want to make or break, simply do them or don't do them for 21 days in succession- and that's it, your habit is made or broken! It isn't as simple as it sounds, because if you miss one day, you'll have to do it for 21 continuous days yet again! It isn't too difficult either; what's 21 days for a habit that will serve you a lifetime?
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