“By harnessing the power of [habit], we can transform our businesses, our communities and our lives.”
~ Charles Duhigg
Last year, I wrote four different Harmony Habit Tips that focused on a systematic process to developing new, desired habits. Each month, I’m happy to say, readers wrote to let me know how much they enjoyed the information and filled me in on the positive changes taking hold in their lives.
Several asked if I could condense the content into one Harmony Habit Tip.
“Of course I can do that!” I said.
So this month’s Harmony Habit Tip is an abbreviated version of this simple, 4-step process.
Whether you want to overcome a self-defeating habit, acquire a new behavior or reinforce positive change, this process can help you shape your life, break bad habits and create more productive patterns.
As you read through each step, I invite you to think about a behavior you’d like to change, and then reflect on how you might apply this information to create your desired result.
4 Steps to Creating New, Desired Habits:
Step# 1: Have the Right Combination of Knowledge, Skill and Desire
In order to create a habit, work is required in 3 areas: you’ve got to know what you want, know how to create it, and, perhaps most importantly, you must want to create it.
Having the desire, or motivation, is the real key.
Without the real desire to develop a habit, no matter how much feedback you get, or how many books you read, or how many workshops you attend or programs you listen to, if you really don’t want to develop a particular habit, you never will.
Reflection: Think about a habit you’d like to build. Ask yourself: “Do I have all three elements in place – or do I need to gain more information, improve my skills or heighten my desire, in order to succeed?”
Most importantly: “Do I really want to develop this habit?”
Focus your initial efforts on building all three of these elements first.
Step # 2: Identify Your “Big Why”
After acquiring the knowledge, skill and desire; the next step is to identify what’s really driving the wish for change. Understanding the big “why” behind your goals – the underlying dreams, hopes and expectations – helps to motivate and strengthen the habits you wish to create.
Reflection: Focus again on something you’d like to change. Ask yourself: “Do I honestly know what’s motivating me? Is there a higher purpose behind this goal? Are my underlying reasons important enough to strengthen my resolve?”
If the answer is “yes”, then make a list of your top 5 reasons and keep it nearby to help motivate you.
Step #3 – Set Daily Intentions
Your intention is your driving force. Set one daily.
If you don’t regularly intend to do things differently, the outcome you’re hoping for is not likely to happen. Plus, setting a daily intention helps to override the old habit energy that keeps you from achieving the result you’re after.
Reflection: Think about the change you want to create. Ask yourself: “Am I intentional about creating this change on a daily basis? Do I consciously follow through? Am I becoming the person I want to be?”
Also, get clear about your obstacles. If you didn’t do what you said you would do, identify what stopped you and be prepared next time to better handle it.
Step #4 – Do Your Part
You have to pay attention to your intention!
If you are really serious about achieving a positive result, you must also make the right effort. Daily action steps are required to carry out your intentions.
Reflection: Think about the tactics you could use daily to keep your goal in mind. Consider strategically placing post-it notes, or reminding yourself with a calendar item; or try enlisting the help of a trusted colleague or friend to check in and see how you’re doing.
Assess your progress at the end of each day and then reward yourself to positively reinforce what you’re accomplishing.
Remember, habits don’t develop overnight. Yet, long-lasting, positive change is far more likely to take place by remembering these four steps:
- To initiate change, have the right combination of knowledge, skill and desire.
- To stay motivated; identify your “big why”.
- To override old habit energy, set daily intentions.
- To reinforce and sustain positive change, do your part, every day.
Remember, this process can help you shape your life, break bad habits and create more positive change. With practice, it becomes a habit.
This month’s practice:
- Select one behavior you’d like to become automatic.
- Get very clear about what success would look like.
- Write down daily/weekly action steps you can take.
- Write down potential roadblocks and ways to overcome them.
- List tactics you will use to remember to pay attention to your intention.
- Identify the people, places or things you will enlist to help you achieve your goal.
- Acknowledge small successes and allow yourself to feel good about them.
- Practice, practice, practice!
The bottom line is: The habits we develop from this day forward play a determining role in how our life unfolds. What our future will look like has a lot to do with the choices we make today.
Creating new, desired habits takes commitment, time, patience and persistence, yet the payoff can be great – it allows us to create the kind of life we want, rather than living a substitute one, instead.
Learn about Mary’s Transformational Coaching and Training Programs.