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How to Break a Habit - or Start a New One

Wouldn't it be nice if we could immediately wake-up to the sound of our alarm, and enthusiastically go for a workout? As we put our plans into our diaries and tell ourselves it's for real this time, we still somehow find that our bed feels cosier as we justify to ourselves that we've earned the sleep in after such a busy week. We know the feeling, so we've put together seven ways to finally develop any habit you desire once and for all.

1) Understand the reason why

You've decided that you are going to begin taking the action but in order to create the long lasting change, you have to really feel the reason why you want to create this new habit. Do you want to get active so you can increase your endurance in a particular sport or is because you want to have a clear headspace before you start work? 

2) Make the decision

During the formation of a new habit, don't allow for exceptions. It's easy to make excuses and talk yourself out of something as you get tempted by something like a cosy bed. If you choose to get up at 6:00 AM each morning, discipline yourself to get up at 6:00 AM, every single morning until this becomes automatic (in 14-21 days time). Sure you will hate it for the first week or so, but that feeling of discomfort will only be temporary and soon you will get out of bed without even thinking about it. A great way to make yourself get out of bed is by using the five-second rule which leadership expert Mel Robbins swears by. It's where you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea. You can find out more about the 5-second rule here.

3) Visualise Your New Habit

Oprah Winfrey is a huge advocate for the power of visualisation and manifestation. By visualising yourself in the habit as if it's already become automatic immediately improves your odds of success as your subconscious mind starts to adopt the new behaviour. 

4) Create An Affirmation

Repetition dramatically increases the speed and which we develop a new habit. By saying something like “I get up and get going immediately at 6:00 AM each morning!”, you will automatically wake up minutes before the alarm clock goes off. Soon you will need no alarm clock at all as your body will naturally adapt to this new behaviour. 

5) Tell Others About Your New Habit

By telling others we are practising a particular behaviour, we immediately are much more disciplined and determined to see it through as we know that they will ask about your progress. Find an accountability buddy who is also trying to create or break the same habit as you, this will help to ensure you follow through on your resolution. 

6) Persistence is key

In the journey of forming a new habit, there will be distractions, roadblocks and certain temptations that have the ability to deter your focus.  A great way to keep on-track is by being prepared and creating accessible trigger points when you are confronted with such distractions. If the habit you want to create is to to get fit which involves eating more nutritious foods, be prepared by having snacks when someone offers you a sugary treat. It's important to persist in the new behaviour until it is so automatic and easy that you feel comfortable to say no. The more you practice your persistence, the easier it gets. 

7) Reward Yourself

This is the fun part: give yourself a reward of some kind for practising and creating the new behaviour. Whether it's treating yourself to a new pair of sneakers that you've had your eye on for a while or an upcoming vacation, having something that is meaningful to you to work towards will dictate your success. 

Understanding how to build new habits (and how your current ones work) is essential for making progress in your health, happiness, and life. All MiGoals diaries feature a section to list five new habits that you're working towards at the beginning of each week you can  shop the range here.

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