When you think of habits, I wouldn't be surprised if you thought of smoking, drinking… all the negative things. I know I do. It’s what has been in front of my 20-something eyes all my life. 

What if there was a way to introduce positive habit forming into your life? 

So, let's think about your morning. What do you do? 

You probably look at your phone, switch off an alarm, rub your eyes, roll out of bed. Go for a pee… make a coffee. These are all habits that you don’t think about. Habits that you unconsciously do. That you never even thought about making. 

Building better habits is about consciously injecting your life with positive things and taking time to witness how it affects your everyday being. Once you start consciously welcoming habit forming into your life or noticing when habits do enter into your life, something really switches up…

In this post, I’ll give you a very brief low-down on what habit formation is, some of the best resources out there and little takeaways that you can experiment with to start generating more positive habits in your life!

So let’s get stuck in…

The Main Benefits of Consciously Forming Habits

Ooops, I gave some of this away in my intro but I’ll reiterate nonetheless: 

When you start consciously inserting habits into your life, something changes. Your mentality switches.

With this…

Benefit 1

You build confidence in achieving small goals 

Benefit 2

You get a happiness boost as you kick out negative habits

Benefit 3

You gain consciousness of body and mind, and the cool things they do

What Habit-Forming Is and the Books You Need to Read

It’s time to get technical! Sit tight, it's worth it 😉

Habit formation is an unconscious sequence that we go through to establish a habit. 

How we establish habits has been a continous debate between psychologists, philosophers and scientists that first struck interest in the early 20th century.

The mind really does work in mysterious ways, but back then, a bunch of guys and gals were trying to pin it down.

The cognitive wheels were well and truly set in motion and many, many theories were made.

Since then, studies have continued —some of which might be a little bit lost on non-sciency people like me— to work out the who, what, where and when of establishing habits. And if we actually can control the habits we make. 

If you are interested in psychology and understand the terminology, Google is a blackhole of information on studies and theories that look into how long to form a habit. However, if you want to get to grips on this and how it affect business life and normal life, there are two pieces of content GOLD that have been sweeping across the entrepreneurial world...

The Power of Habit and Atomic Habits

The first is more of a business side of habit-forming. Including some amazing studies that go into business cultures and how paying attention to routines and inserting changes can alter perceptions. Proper mind-game stuff. 

The Power of Habit changed my world, I’ve since stopped smoking and altered habits in my daily routine that were having a negative effect on me because of its teachings. Obviously, these changes didn’t happen overnight.

Atomic Habits is more of a self-help kind of approach that, I’ll be honest, I haven’t got to yet, but I’m literally about to start reading it, so I’ll report back with a quick review soon 😉

2 Months to Rock the System... At Least

One of the most popular takeaways that you can get from these books is that it takes around 21 days to form a habit.

But… I’m sure you've done something for around 3 weeks and fallen out of the habit as easily as you fell into it. We’ve just been in and out of lockdowns like yo-yo’s (or at least, I have) for the last two years. And, do you still maintain the habits you started then? Probably not. Circumstances change and your habits drop, even after this "sacred" 21 days.  

To add to the resources on healthy habits, I have to include this great article from James Clear (author of Atomic Habits) that goes into "how many days does it take to form a habit". As you would imagine, each individual is different but the guesstimate is 2-8 months with an average of 66 days.

How Can We Play With This?

The super cool thing about reading into and drawing attention to the all-importnat question of 'how long does it take to form a habit' is that you can start to experiment with how you manage them. 

Can you get yourself into the habit of waking up earlier? Or change your morning coffee to green tea? 

In habit formation, this is done through paying attention to the trigger and the reward

What we do subconsciously has a profound impact on how we manage our lives which is why these books are so groundbreaking.

As we look at how small habits have big impacts our health, we can make changes for the better. You start to notice the little things, and think about how you can adjust them. Before you know it, your lifestyle choices have radically changed and you’ve pretty much just tricked yourself into doing it.

Super cool mind-game stuff — like I said.

Consciously Habit Forming: A Personal Example

I want to come back to my new habit of leaving my phone outside my room that I mention in Habits For a Healthy Morning because I think it best frames what I’m getting at here without having to badly explain theories covered in a whole book… no one has time for that! 

So, let’s get into it. 

What I Did

I had read that by leaving your phone outside your room, you can really improve your concentration and break the toxic habit of being super attached to your phone. This can also do awesome powerful things like improve your sleep, reduce anxiety… things that you wouldn’t typically associate with looking at your phone before you go to bed.

So I tried it. 

I left my phone in the kitchen of my small apartment, close enough that I could still hear my alarm. 

On the first night, my body was so confused. It was so used to browsing Instagram, my eyes didn’t know what to do with themselves. So I started thinking about all the things that I’m grateful for instead. I’d keep listing things, like counting sheep until my body felt ready to sleep (I still do this, it's my fave). 

I haven’t looked at my phone before I sleep since. Okay, maybe I’ve done it once or twice… but the habit of doing it mindlessly for hours is well and truly out the window and the affects have been amazing. 

I sleep SO well. I feel less anxious, I’m less concerned about social media than I have ever been (or care to admit to), and WAY more dedicated to completing tasks without distraction. 

To break this down so that you can see what I did, let’s look at it like this…

The problem: I scroll mindlessly before bed, filling my head with information that is not beneficial or healthy for me.

The trigger: having my phone next to my bed as a temptation

The reward: feeling included, pretty things… whatever Instagram’s game plan is

The replacement: gratitudes

Action: leaving my phone outside my room and listing things I’m grateful for in my mind

Small Changes, Big Improvements

It’s action time!

I love doing shit. 

And I want you to join me! 

I want you to change something super tiny about your day consciously and see how it can radically change the way you do things. Take on the challenge and see how long it takes you to form a habit!

It's a tall ask for a 5ft-nothing person, right?

So, to get some ideas, check out my FREE starter guide that helps you to take the first steps you need to start living wholesome. It comes with a checklist to keep you accountable. You just need to pop in your email address to get it!

Try it. You've got nothing to lose.

What are some habits that you’d like to change?

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About the Author

Artist and writer following the flow on her own travel and wellness journey.

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