Two Simple Ways to Form New Habits Without Really Trying

Forming new habits is often seen as a huge commitment that only a few fortunate souls - blessed with a naturally high dosage of willpower - can ever accomplish. The rest of us can only content ourselves with silly attempts to change, only to default to our old ways.

But the problem isn’t really with forming new habits. It’s our approach to forming new habits that makes life difficult.

To make your life much easier, here are two simple ways you can use to form new habits that will help you get great results without really trying!

Half Habits

The most common approach to forming a new habit is to attempt to create it with a single leap from your old way to the new way, without any transition period. You smoke and you want to quit smoking. You drink coffee and you want to cut it out of your diet. You don’t exercise and want to join the gym to exercise on a daily basis. To achieve your goals, you rely on commitment and willpower.

But as you have experienced time and time again, your willpower will dwindle a few weeks down the road (if you survive that long) and drag your commitment down with it, leaving you with your old ways… if not worse!

That’s because to go from one way to a totally new way is unnatural. It comes as a shock to your mind, body and soul and they will fight fiercely to return to a way that is familiar to them.

What’s the solution, I hear you ask?

Well, that’s a good question, and I’m glad you asked it :)

A solution I would recommend would be to go for half habits.

What does that mean?

Rather than trying to commit FULLY to a new habit, you simply take a step in its direction.

For example, instead of immediately joining a gym in order to become healthy, if your body has almost forgotten what “physical activity” means, incorporate a mini-exercise routine at home. That way, you don’t feel guilty that you’re not going to the gym every day, and you’re not taking something on that will be met with resistance. It’s a small adjustment that you won’t have difficulty keeping up.

An advantage to half habits is that you accept that you need to go through a transition period from old habit to new habit. You accept this as something natural and not a failing on your part.

Your focus then turns to the progress that you are making instead of the times you fall off the wagon!

“Oh great! I exercised four times this week!” instead of “OH MY GOD! I haven’t exercised for THREE days this week!”

And with half habits, you can effectively take on a number of habits without feeling any pressure!

I managed to cut down on coffee and soft drinks, started blogging almost daily, reduced the amount of food I eat, began waking up early in the morning and developed a range of other mini-habits that have popped up here and there without me making any serious attempt to form them. The last time I drank a soft drink I actually felt disgusted because I didn’t enjoy the taste (my preference is moving towards drinking water). I didn’t force myself to stop drinking soft drinks. I simply said to myself: I would like to start drinking more water and removing soft drinks from my diet. And I went in that direction with the acceptance that I might be having a soft drink occasionally.

Another great advantage to half habits is that some habits help reinforce each other!

Cutting down on coffee helps you get more quality sleep, which helps make it easier to wake up early, which gives you more time to do quality work, etc.

You transition towards new habits without feeling burdened by unrealistic commitments and can enjoy making progress in your life.

And what’s the other way you can form habits easily…?

Timeless Habits

One of the major obstacles we face in trying to adopt new habits into our lives is simply that we don’t have the time to do so!

If you want to start exercising, you need to fit exercise sessions into your schedule. But that involves some planning, and you might already have too many commitments that stop you from squeezing in exercise into your busy week.

But that doesn’t mean you cannot develop new and positive habits!

Not having the time is no reason to remain stagnant. There are many small adjustments and changes we can do here and there that require no extra time whatsoever!

Do you need any extra time to replace coffee with green tea, or soft drinks with water?

Do you need any extra time to sprinkle your day with a few more smiles?

There are SO many ways we can move forward in life without needing to make any hefty time commitments, and these changes will help us realize how easy it is to form new habits and will also lead us to enjoy the many benefits these habits can bring to our lives!

Give these two ways a try, and find out how easy it is to form new habits and move your life forward!

The Golden Nuggets From This Article

To make the application of the lessons in this post easier to apply, here’s a summary of the key points mentioned, split between Theory (the ideas you should bear in mind) and Practice (what you need to do to make use of what you just read)

Theory

  • Forming new habits isn’t hard, nor does it require a lot of willpower. The problem is with our approach to habit-formation
  • There are two simple ways to habit-formation that makes it easy to accomplish: 1) Half Habits 2) Timeless Habits
  • Half Habits: Rather than aim to form a new habit fully, aim to make progress in the direction of the new habit. You will gradually re-adjust, and the approach is much more natural than expecting to form a new habit with a single leap
  • Timeless Habits: There are many, many habits we can develop that require absolutely no time commitment. Replacing coffee with green tea, or soft drinks with water doesn’t take any extra time to do but can bring about great benefits into our lives

Practice

  • Half Habits: For all the habits you intend on adopting, instead of focusing on the destination (forming the new habit fully), think of the next step you can take in the direction of these habits and make a slight adjustment to adopting these habits
  • Timeless Habits: Come up with ways you can make simple changes to what you eat, how you behave, etc. that can bring about positive results in your life, without needing to free up any time on your schedule to form these new habits

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Haider Al-Mosawi from Personal Growth Map.

 
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  • Cindy says
    it is a HUGE committment and definitely a hard thing to do...habits are extremely hard to break...addicitions/habits kind of the same...if you really want to stop something you are going to give it 110% and it can be done! you just have to WANT to...I broke mine and to keep it going I just had to look back at it and remember the bad things and how much better I felt...that keeps you going.
    • charmed says
      Success is but a small sacrifice of time and effort.
    • Alana says
      After reading this I feel more empowered to try and give up smoking again. I really want to do it, BUT I have to comit to it 110 percent.
    • Geoff says
      Hey, the article is so true. Going cold turkey or making adramatic change to adopt a new habit doesn't work for everbody so, as the article says take it one step at a time. If you want to increase your exercise or fitness level start with just 5 minutes per day and progressively increase it. Walk for 5 minutes per day for a week then slowly increase it - slot it in during a lunch break - easy as!! 10 minutes a week, then 20 etc, etc. After a serious illness I needed to increase my strength and stamina and so started with 10 minutes per day. In a matter of weeks I had caught the bug and was up to an hour per day and feeling all the better for it.

      Someone once said it takes 21 days of concerted effort to form or break a habit.

      Good luck.
    • Craig says
      Still trying to give up that smoking habit......wish me luck
    • Jono says
      Some people find habits easier to make or break than others. I'm sure it's in the makeup of our DNA. My Dad quit smoking cold turkey while my Mum still struggles to give up the nicotine gum! I'm a bit of both of them, some things are easy to break, others not so much! Good luck to everyone trying to form/break habits in the new year.
    • bowering says
      One step at a time has always been good advice. As a life-long starter of many things and completer of few I've found that the secret is to take things easy and not expect the world right away. With that mindset you're far more likely to do a bit every day and finally achieve. The only thing this approach doesn't work with is a bottle of fine wine!
    • I think this article focuses somewhat on the habit being something of chore. In order keep motivation, we should intersperse our routine with fun activities in order to maintain motivation.
      For example for myself trying to for a run in the morning, I might decide to take a football and have a kick aroundin the park instead.
      My first year at varsity, I met a hot girl while out jogging in the morning, that was great motivator to get up every morning to say hi to her. That quickly became a habit.
    • Paul says
      I think the motivation is the key. If you have a good enough reason, that is important to you, then you can kick any habit... if you want it bad enough. My wife was seriously addicted to chocolate eating ALOT every day for 15 years plus. She got pregnant and immediately dropped it from her diet. Her motivation was the welfare of her new baby. After she finished breastfeeding the chocolate addiction started again. Until the next pregnancy where it was again dropped. So she can't or won't do it for herself but the diet of a new baby is all the motivation she needed.
    • 1234 says
      This is a really good one for the New Years resolutions

      Alot easier to keep if you dont have to try and actively keep them.
    • BigK says
      I like this article alot. It talks about ideas that ive often thought about myself. I find habits hard to pick up becasue i kind of feel like they would help me, but ive done alright without them for years. One example is fitness, for 2 years now ive wanted to start running regularly. But im already in good shape from the sport i played as a teenager. I'm not over-weight, i dont smoke, i am on my feet all day in my employment and i play social sport once or twice a week. So although i would like to jog daily, do i really need to? is there any point?

      Do you see my problem.

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