I'm a nail biter. Always have been. I cannot remember a time in my life where biting my nails wasn't something I was compulsively doing, actively thinking about or painfully quitting. This habit has made me feel less-than and has caused self-loathing and even caused conflict in relationships.
This is my bad habit. We all have them. They permeate our lives and often cause us incredible levels of stress and self-doubt because we are desperate to change them or desperate to not let them affect us so much.
Forming good habits can be a great way to incorporate routine into your life, something many people who are creative or who work from home struggle with. Not only will they make us feel healthier, but also they can help us feel strong. Being tied to a good habit means that you are able to commit to something. Before long, a practice becomes a habit, something that you do without thinking about it.
There are three things we need to know about habits.
- We usually consider them negative regular practices.
- Habits can also be positive practices.
- You alone get to choose which habits are right for you.
So let's unpack that, shall we?
When we think about our bad habits (biting our nails, eating after 8pm, smoking, too much drinking, TV or snacking, stress shopping - the list goes on), we don't think that we can change them, no matter how hard we try. But how hard are we really trying? We often think of them as part of who we are, something that is just too hard to change or something we'll get to later.
Oh girl, you and I both know that's bullshit. Later is never.
You may have just one habit that you want to get rid of or you might have several you want to improve upon. I'm with you girl, I'm constantly striving to be better and changing my habits is the easiest way to do that. When you accomplish the change, your confidence will rise and your mental (and maybe physical) health will be better for it.
Though we often think of our habits as the negative aspects of our character, wouldn't it be more fun to focus on the positive habits we have fostered? All those things you do to better your soul and existence - those are habits too! Sometimes this can be the opposite of a bad habit.
For example, choosing to drink a glass of water between margaritas and stopping at two would be the opposite of too much drinking. It doesn't have to be so drastic or black and white. It's all about changing your mindset about the things you do. Positive habits can show up in small and random places. Don't just think about your diet and exercise - think about the whole of your being. What do you do regularly that adds LOVE to your life?
Some stellar examples: Daily gratitude practice, happiness affirmations, mid-day walk to clear your head, washing off your makeup, complimenting strangers, exercise, nourishing breakfasts.
What are your POSITIVE habits? We all have these too!
You choose your habits
I've listed a multitude of habits in this post already, both positive and negative. Maybe one or a few resonated with you, maybe none. And that's the magic. YOU get to choose which habits belong to you. YOU get to choose which habits you want to dispel or adopt. You'll see all kinds of lists telling you about the habits of successful or likable women and while those lists are totally valid, YOU still get to decide what is right for you and at what pace you want to work them into or out of your life or if you care about it at all.
So... How do we change a habit?
There are three things you can do to make sure that you are successful when changing a habit. Whether you are trying to get rid of a nasty old habit or trying to adopt a new and exciting one, these tricks will keep on track to feeling that sense of accomplishment rather than disappointment.
I will give this advice again and again in many different arenas of life. Shoot for the stars, but set yourself up for success. If you have never worked out a day in your life, running 3 miles every day is maybe not a habit you can adopt so easily. But if you want to incorporate exercise into your daily life, a realistic option might be that you will try to walk 30 minutes every day for 30 days. When you feel comfortable, you can start running. Make sense? Don't knowingly give yourself a headache or a feeling of dread. Instead, choose new habits that will fill you with love when you know you've done something good for yourself.
You need a why. Why do you want to get rid of your bad habit? Why do you want to start a good one? "Because so-and-so does it" is not a good enough answer. You must have a personal vested interested in the habit. An example: If you want to create two new pieces of art each week, 'because it's good for my Instagram' is not going to be enough for you to follow through, at least not for long. You'll burn out because your 'why' is not strong enough. But what if you wanted to create two new pieces of art each week because you wanted to inspire others to invoke their inner creativity or you want to make someone feel something again because they've been struggling. That works. That will fill you with love. Each time you accomplish your habit, you'll know that you are doing something that matters.
You can apply this little trick to every habit you choose. It doesn't always have to be so profound.
Track Your Success
Keep yourself accountable. Someone's got to make sure you're really doing this and guess what! That someone is you. YOU are in charge of your beautiful life. I recommend only working on changing or adopting one habit at a time - no need to overwhelm yourself.
Your habits are waiting for you - now go get it!
Research has varied on the topic of forming habits, but many believe that it takes 66 days to form a habit. This means we have to be PATIENT with ourselves. Nothing happens overnight. You just have to try every single day. In my free Habit Builder worksheet, I challenge you to 90 days! I know there will be days that you miss, but this is nothing to feel guilty about. My hope is that when you keep yourself accountable, you will want to succeed even more.
Download the free Habit Builder right now and get started. Write down which habit you've chosen, your WHY and then start marking off the days. Daily practices are a good place to start, but if you've got something you'd like to do weekly or monthly, go with that too.