Creating and Maintaining New Habits

opened diary placed on table near mug and candle

The New Year is here and no matter what your resolution is there is one thing we all have in common; we are trying to build new habits in order to achieve our goals. In 2020 I was well into my decluttering journey, and I wanted to start setting up routines and rhythms in my day to help me establish new habits that would help me keep up on the housework. I am also a self-development junkie, so I am always looking for ways to improve upon myself and my life.

I decided to read the infamous Atomic Habits book and now it will forever be at the top of my recommendation list. There are so many amazing takeaways in the book so it is a must read, but I wanted to give a quick overview about the laws of habits. These are tools that you can implement in your own life when you are looking to adopt and new habit. In atomic Habits there are 4 laws of habit formation, basically the 4 strategies to use as you develop a new habit.

The 4 laws of habit formation:

  1. Make it Obvious
  2. Make it Attractive
  3. Make it Easy
  4. Make it Satisfying.

Let’s apply these laws to my goal that I had back in 2020 when I was wanting to maintain a clean home.

Make it Obvious

This is about designing an environment for success and creating a trigger to remind you of your goal. Make cues for your habit more obvious. Such as putting all of your cleaning supplies in a caddy on the countertop each night so in the morning you are reminded to wipe down the bathroom.

Make it Attractive

Pair your new habit with something you want to do or already do, for example I will put in a load of laundry every morning right after I start my cup of coffee for the day. Use this formula “When X occurs, I will do Y”.

Make it Easy

Making it easy could be about starting small, try following the two-minute rule when you start a new habit. For example, I will set a timer and clean for two minutes in the morning or two minutes before I go to sleep. Starting with two minutes a day will eventually build up to more. Another example of making it easier could be decluttering your home so that cleaning becomes less of a chore.

The inverse of this is to make bad habits harder. For example, if I only have a set of 6 dishes in my home then it will be much harder for me to have a sink full of dishes. I will have to do dishes more often in order to have clean ones to use.

Make it Satisfying

Create a reward, identify a short-term external reward for completing your habit. For example, if I clean-up the kitchen at night I then get to watch my favorite show before I go to bed.

To form a habit, you need to have a trigger, routine, and reward so work on creating these for the new habit you are wanting to achieve. There are so many other examples and strategies in the book, but if you have these 4 laws in mind I know you will be off to a good start.

Here are some other ideas that I have used when working on forming a new habit:

Write it down: People who write down their goals are 20% more likely to achieve success. The simple act of writing down your goals makes you significantly more likely to achieve them. This is because the process of putting your goals into words forces you to clarify your thoughts and better understand what you want to achieve.

Focus on who you want to become not what you want to achieve. For example, I do not want a clean house I want to be a person who loves to clean.

If something takes you 2 min or less, just do it!

Lower the hurdle by making the right choice the easy choice. Try creating solutions that support your habits. For example, try adding a tray on the counter where papers already tend to pile up. This way you are adding a solution not trying to change a habit.

I hope these ideas will get you headed in the right direction in achieving your goals and establishing new habits.



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