Who are we without our habits?
Humans are creatures of habit. We love routines and rituals because they give our lives clarity and structure. They help us to fulfill our needs. They let us master challenging situations. What is more important, they help us grow as people, day in and day out, almost effortlessly.
What happens when good habits fall away is something we've experienced firsthand during the lockdowns and social distancing measures of the recent pandemic: the commute to work. Coffee in the morning with colleagues. Exercising after work at the gym. Overnight, our routines were shaken up in a big way, with no quick replacement. As a result, our daily routine became more restless, we lacked balance. We had fewer opportunities to recharge our batteries and relieve stress. Without our good habits, we are not the same people.
The New Normal: Quo vadis good habits?
For many needs we quickly found alternative solutions: Meetings via video call, sports via Instagram, and after-work beers on Zoom. In the meantime, a sense of normality has been established in many spheres. But how much do we value this new normality? Do these new habits work for us in the long term? And what do we need to live a beautiful life?
Now is the time to test our new and old habits and do a system check: How satisfied am I with my everyday life? How am I doing physically and mentally? What do I need for more energy, peace and serenity?
Let good habits enhance your day by one percent everyday!
Our habits are power sources for our everyday life. With patience and perseverance, they can fundamentally change our lives. Assuming we get one percent better at one thing every day through our habits, we'll be 37 times as good at the end of the year as we were at the beginning. That's exponential growth. 37 times!
As with brushing our teeth, it's not about clearing our oral hygiene forever with three brushings. Instead, we see and feel the benefits in the long run. Daily push-ups make us stronger. Meditation makes us mentally healthier. Daily reading makes us wiser. The effects over time transform you into a different person.
The path to a good habit begins with a good intention
You can recognize successful habits right from the start. Because real, sustainable drive comes from a strong "why". Do I actually just want to do a little more exercise because it would do me good? - Probably a little more will quickly turn into a little less.
Real motivation comes from within us and is based on a strong need or an authentic vision. The two birds in the bush must become so attractive to us that the bird in our hand becomes uninteresting in comparison.
"What kind of person do you want to be?" is the core question posed by James Clear, habit expert and author of Atomic Habits. "I want to be fit and healthy to explore the world with my children," would be such a strong "why."
Shaping the habit so that your weaker self doesn't stand a chance.
Even when the greatest motivation takes a break, a few clever moves help you to stick to it anyway. In any case, you should determine from the very beginning when, how and where you will carry out your new habit. It should be very clear in which context it will take place: at home, before or after a certain activity, for example after getting up, or after dinner.
It is also helpful if you adjust your environment in such a way that missing the habit is actually impossible. Maybe it's the gym clothes that are already waiting next to the bed for the morning run. Reminders via smartphone or as a note can help as well. The most effective way is certainly to have a "partner in crime" with whom you follow through with the new habit, at least at the beginning.
Encourage daily perseverance with small bounties.
Your willpower can be as strong as it is - if it's not fun sometimes and we don't see the positive results right away, it's hard to hang on there. If you want to achieve long-term goals, you also need short-term rewards to keep us motivated. On a small scale, this can be a little check mark that you write in your notebook after accomplishing the habit. It will provide you with a little dopamine kick. You can also tie your habit to a lovely activity, such as your favorite podcast, which you will only listen to while running from now on. You'll be surprised how long you can run. ;-)
Find your own individual formula for success.
There is plenty of inspiration for new habits that social media provided us with in recent years. Although in the end, there is no magic formula. You should try out for yourself which habits feel good and what works the best personally for you in order to get closer to your own "why". Being open to reviewing the already existing routines, sorting them out and trying out new habits helps you to recognize what your individual path to success might look like and thus creates mental flexibility for future challenges.