Have you ever wanted to learn Italian? Wake up in the morning and meditate? Put your phone away an hour before bed? We’ve all been there — daydreaming about a new habit we know would make our lives fuller.
Implementing new routines into our hectic lives is already hard enough, let alone making them stick. Yet, 2020 has truly forced us to rethink how we live, work, and play — so why not also rethink your dream habits and finally turn them into new routines?
When we’re running around trying to juggle our job, personal life, keeping up with the news, etc. it can feel overwhelming to add anything else to our list. Now that most of us are still working from home, the lack of commuting frees up a lot of time in our days. Rather than using that time to mindlessly scroll through Instagram, we can leverage this time to work toward a larger goal we’ve had, such as setting a new habit.
And a new habit can be anything! It can be a new hobby you want to pick up, learning a new skill, or simply prepping your meals in advance. Maybe your new habit is something that will increase your productivity or it’s something you can do as a pastime to unwind from the day. A habit shouldn’t be intimidating because it’s something that you WANT to do, not something you have to do or feel like you should do.
Starting something new may feel daunting in the beginning; we’ve all been there. You often think you’ll, “wait until the moment feels right.” Then, suddenly, days, weeks, and months go by. So what if I were to tell you the moment is, in fact, now? Here are a few tips to motivate your new habits and routines.
Let’s Understand The Science
First, let’s take a step back and look at how habits work. James Clear describes what is known as the four stages of habit: cue, craving, response, and reward. We are always looking for more dopamine, i.e., rewards. “Your mind is continuously analyzing your internal and external environment for hints of where rewards are located,” Clear points out. “Because the cue is the first indication that we’re close to a reward, it naturally leads to a craving.”
If any of the four stages isn’t balanced, it won’t become a habit. “In summary, the cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, that satisfies the craving and, ultimately, becomes associated with the cue.” This process works on a loop that will ultimately work its way into an automatic habit. Some important things to think about when working a new habit into your life are making it: obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. Like the satisfaction we receive from our phone buzzing or the likes we receive on Instagram, we want to feel this “reward” each time we’re working on our new habit.
It’s All About Time
Rather than immediately implementing a new habit every day for the rest of your life, start with a time limit. They say it takes 21 days to implement a new habit, but there’s no harm in starting small! If you’re unsure about which habit you want to stick with, pick one habit, and stick to it for seven days. If you like it, keep going for three to four weeks until it becomes automatic.
LifeHack mentions how vital sticking to your habit every day is. “Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick.” By doing so, your habit will start to become second nature. When you only participate in an activity a few times a week, it’s trickier to lock in as a new habit.
If your habit includes a time limit: i.e., you want to study for two hours every day, try starting with half an hour and working your way up. This way, you won’t overwhelm yourself right away and risk wanting to give up. Lastly, try implementing your habit into your routine at the same time each day. This will help your mind and body make a connection so that, eventually, you’ll start your habit automatically without even thinking.
Imperfect is the New Perfect
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your new habit. You’re not going to wake up one day and suddenly know how to play the guitar, and no one expects you to! Sometimes we have to implement new habits multiple times throughout our lifetime before they stick.
In today’s society, comparison culture is a huge issue when it comes to self-esteem and trying new things. We scroll through social media, thinking, “I wish I had legs like that,” or, “I wish I could do push-ups like them.” When we compare ourselves, we begin to have a negative outlook. Our mind changes from, “I can” to “I can’t.” A trick suggested by LifeHack is to replace ‘can’t’ with ‘but.’ For example, “I’m not good at this, but I will be better if I work at it.” A simple mindset shift could be all you need to stop yourself from falling into the rabbit-hole of comparison culture. Use your mindset shift to motivate you rather than dissuade you. Good things take time, and we need to remember that social media usually only includes people’s end results.
To Sum It Up
All we really need to embrace new habits is to cut ourselves some slack. With habits like social media, we often feel a pull to do things (or post things) for other people — whether it’s showcasing a new outfit or a travel destination. However, habits are the complete opposite. Habits are for you and you alone.
At the end of the day, your habits are how you spend your free time. And now that we have an abundance of free time, it’s the perfect opportunity to consider how you choose to fill it. Plus, by instilling habits into your daily routine during quarantine, you’ll be that much more likely to walk into the new normal with a neat new trick up your sleeve to show all your friends IRL!
Content courtesy of Liana Pavane, digital wellness expert and founder of TTYL—a tech-free community dedicated to human connection.
CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR, LIANA PAVANE
Liana founded TTYL in 2018 to help people have a healthier relationship with technology and social media. Since launching, she has been featured on NY1, Bedford + Bowery, The Joy List, the SHIPS podcast, and more for her work in digital wellness.
As a professional community builder, Liana believes in the power of unplugging and living in the present moment. Her tech-free events have been hosted at prominent spaces such as Athleta, Showfields, The Assemblage, The Phluid Project, and Tijuana Picnic.
Liana is also a born and raised New Yorker who studied theatre at Ithaca College. When she’s not growing her business or hosting an event, you can find Liana networking with like-minded people or finding joy away from her phone.