Monday | February 6, 2017
By Richard Harrison, iGenFIT
Forming a new habit can be difficult, especially when the habit you are trying to form is opposite a habit you already have ingrained, like quitting smoking after 10+ years. Research shows that it takes between 21 and 66 days to establish a new habit completely, depending on the person. For reassurance, your best bet is to commit to establishing a habit over the course of 66 days, or 67 for good measure.
Unfortunately, many people fail to follow through with their new goals and habits, not for a lack of will power, but because they don’t have systems in place to support them and their commitment. This post will be somewhat brief in its scope, but you can find a more in depth plan for setting up an effective system for establishing habits and achieving goals in less than 20 minutes a day in my FREE eBook “The Motivation Transformation.”
In this post, I will be covering the following points:
- How Systems Can Help You
- Setting Up The Most Important System – Self Support
- Quick Tips To Ease Commitment
Putting Systems In Place
For any successful endeavor, whether starting a new business, beginning a new job, learning a new discipline, or establishing a new habit, in order to become truly effective, efficient, and eventually successful, systems are put in place.
When Henry Ford wanted to become the first affordable, mass-produced automobile manufacturer, he first created and implemented a now famous system, the assembly line. Establishing your new habit is no different. Putting systems in place makes you work smarter, not harder towards your goal. It will make you more effective and efficient.
System 1 – Self-Support
One of the most important systems that you need to have in place in your life, is a support system for yourself. No matter how small your goal may seem to others, if you don’t believe in achieving it, you won’t. “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right.” (Henry Ford)
This system can be broken down into 3 main components. A written goal, affirmations, and visualizations.
The act of writing down your goals is a psychological strategy. When you physically write down your goals, you are actually imprinting them in your mind. It’s a simple accountability trick that tells your brain that you are setting this goal and that you expect it to achieve it. The same goes for asking you brain a question. When you ask your brain a question out loud, it has to find the answer. It may not come to you right away, but eventually you will find the answer.
This is what happens when you can’t recall the answer to something. You ask yourself what it is, and as long as someone else doesn’t tell you the answer, it will come to you. Sometimes, it will come to you way after-the-fact, which is always amusing. That “Aha” moment or “Man, I could have used that information a week ago.”
The best way to write down you goals is using the SMART system. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
Specific: Setting a specific goal means you are thorough in what it is that you want to achieve. If you want to become a famous writer, explain what you qualify as being famous. I want to be a #1 Best-seller on the New York Times List. That is a specific goal.
Measurable: Measurable can be a quantitative or qualitative form of measure but it needs to be measureable. In the last example, #1 is the measure. If I said I want to be on the best-seller list, there is still a form of measure, but it is not very specific. That measure would be considered qualitative. The number makes it more specific to both a quantitative and qualitative goal measurement. The more specific your goal, the better your chances of success because it tells your brain that you know exactly what you want, and also provides you a way of measuring up how you did in achieving that goal. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish when you set SMART goals.
Achievable: Setting achievable goal means that it is a goal that you 100% believe you can achieve. If there is even a slight doubt that you can’t achieve the goal, don’t even bother setting it. This will just give you the cop-out if you don’t succeed. Burn all of your bridges. Don’t give yourself an easy way out. It’s the famous fight or flight. If you have the opportunity to flee, than there is no reason for you to fight for your goal. Only by eliminating flight will you amass the strength to fight with everything you have.
Relevant: Relevant means that the goal is something that you truly want to achieve and have the ability to achieve. If you want to achieve a goal, but do not have the means to, you must first find the means to achieve it before you can attempt it. This means taking a closer look at what advantages and disadvantages achieving this goal will bring with it. Do you actually want to be famous, or do you value your private life more than its worth? Do you want to be a successful mogul, or is it going to deprive you of your time with your family and friends. It is said that a person can only be the master of 3 areas of your life, and trying to juggle too many will results in a jack of all trades and master of none. Think about the areas you want to be successful. Health, Relationships, Financial Stability, Career, Community, Education, Parenthood, etc. Which ones are most important and meaningful to you?
Timely: Timely refers to setting a time-limit for your goals. Without a time-limit, your mind has an infinite time-limit to achieve your goal, which means that it will always find more important things to work on instead. Set a specific time limit for your goal and work from there. It’s ok if you don’t meet your time limit. Sometimes it will take days or even weeks more to accomplish. The important part is that you set the limit so you can measure where you need to work harder, or what things may be hindering your progress.
The last part of setting SMART goals, which isn’t always discussed is analyzing the results. After you have set a goal and the time limit has run out, you should always return to analyze the results. This will help you see what worked, what didn’t work, and what can be improved, so the next time you set a goal, you can navigate around your own pitfalls. You will know your strengths and weaknesses in goal-setting so the next time you can be more successful and quicker in achievement.
Affirmations are a great way to motivate, inspire, and reward yourself for your efforts in pursuing your goal. An affirmation is just a positive statement to yourself, affirming that you are doing the right thing. Affirmations should always be stated in the simple present tense. Even if what you are saying is not currently true, you are establishing the thought pattern in your head that it is true. Your psychology is a wonderful thing. For more information about why and how this works, you can read my FREE eBook “The Motivation Transformation.”
A simple example of an affirmation is:
I wake up early everyday.
While this is simple enough, it may not be true. However, if it is a goal that you have, or something that will help you achieve your goal, it is a relevant affirmation. By simply repeating this 3 times in the morning and before you go to bed, you will begin to establish the thought pattern that will slowly begin to materialize.
I recommend creating 1-3 affirmations that are relevant to your new goal or habit. The act of repeating these twice a day will establish the though process that will bring it about in reality.
Visualization is the process of visualizing your goals as if they were achieved. It provides your mind with a sense of the feelings associated with achievement as well as the repetition of seeing you achieve your goal. This will help you establish, again, the thought process, and appropriate responses to its achievement. Think of it this way, whenever you prepare for something to happen over and over again, many times it does. And when you have prepared, you know how to respond. You have practiced it enough times in your mind that you have created an immediate response that almost seems natural.
The interesting thing about visualization is that your mind cannot distinguish what is real and what is happening inside of your mind. When they tested this on olympic athletes in the 80’s, they hooked them up to neurological equipment that allowed scientists to record the activity in their brain and their body. Suprisingly, the same parts of the brain and the same muscles fired when they ran their event in their mind as they did when they ran the event in real-life.
Tip #1 – Piggy-Back Habits
When you begin to establish a new habit, the easiest way to start taking action with them, is to piggy-back your new habit with an already established one. For instance, if you want to start flossing your teeth more regularly, the obvious way to piggy-back would be to immediately start doing it after you brush your teeth. This will only work if the new habit aligns with an established habit that is positive. If you are trying to quit smoking, and everytime you want to have a cigarette, you go to a bottle of Jack Daniels and down a shot, you aren’t helping yourself establish a better habit, you are replacing it with arguably a more dangerous habit.
Tip #2 – Avoid Triggers
If you know that every-time you do something, you want to revert back to the old habit, avoid it. Establishing new habits is a vulnerable time. You don’t want to give yourself any more opportunities to fall off the wagon than are necessary. This includes being around certain people as well. If you have a habit of doing the old habit when you are around certain people, try to avoid the during this transition period.
Tip #3 – Set Reminders
Alarms are a great way to remind yourself to do something. If there are certain times during the day that provide you the time for affirmations, visualizations, or setting goals, set an alarm for that time period that is labeled with a reminder. The toughest part about this is actually following through and taking the action.
Tip #4 – Do It Now
Taking action is the toughest part of establishing new habits. You are constantly arguing with your mind to do the new habit, when all it wants to do is take the easy route and do the old habit. Don’t let your mind run you. You run your mind. When you know that you are supposed to do something to help you with establishing the habit, JUST DO IT. Don’t give yourself time to think about it, because you will certainly find all kinds of reasons not to. Do it, get it over with, and move on. Fortune favors the decisive. Know that you want to do it because it will help you, and just do it. You will find that the more decisive you are about doing things, the more opportunities open up to you. That goes for everything in life, not just establishing habits.
For more information on establishing new habits and setting up a full system to achieve goals and habits consistently, you can read my FREE eBook on my website. “The Motivation Transformation,” is a full step-by-step system for establishing habits. It provides a full scope of habit-forming, goal setting, affirmations, and much more. It is based on world-renowned authors, and psychologists, and will provide you with a full blueprint on how to set these systems up in your life. It requires less than 20 minutes of writing and thinking a day, so it can fit into anyones life.
Check back in tomorrow for our post on:
Healthy ingredient alternatives and reading nutrition labels.