How to form new habits that stick

Most of us may feel the need of changing a few habits (for say waking up early), forming new habits (like going to the gym), and discarding some nasty old habits (like smoking and drinking). Most often we make plans, write resolutions, and start with enthusiasm; but soon we fail to continue with our plans and end up in the initial stage. So, how can we form new habits and stick to them? Here I am going to talk about a five-point strategy of building new habits and sticking to them:


1) Ask ‘why

The first important step is new habit formation is being able to answer why you want to form the new habit in the first place. The clearer and more unambiguous is your answer, the better chance you have in taking proactive approach in forming new habits. Therefore, conscious evaluation of the need of the new habit is very critical. For example, the real reasons for beginning to read the newspaper daily can be genuine feeling that being informed about various developments will help you making better decisions in personal and professional life. The reasons of forming a new habit MUST be motivating in themselves. If you can strongly feel the needs of forming a new habit chances are that you will be more successful in sticking to the habits. Creating intrinsic motivators i.e. being motivated to do things on your own and not through any rewards or punishment is an essential process of building habits that last.
The Don’ts:
1) I will start reading the newspaper every day. Most of my colleagues do it.
The Do`s:
1) I will start reading the newspaper every day. I am not doing well in my job because of my lack of knowledge about current developments in my field. So it is a ‘must-do’ for me.

2) Visualize the process
Most often we visualize how effectively forming the new habit will make us better. For example, before starting to exercise daily or starting a new diet, we often visualize (or often fantasize) how we are going to look with our newly formed 8-pack abs. This is a wrong way of visualization. Rather than visualizing the end, if we can visualize how we will effectively execute the plan everyday (i.e. carryout the micro tasks daily), we will have a better chance in being able to stick to our habits. For example, visualizing you exercising daily and eating the right food is more effective than visualizing having a toned body.
The Don’ts:
1) Wow, I am looking so toned up!
The Do`s:
1) Wow, I am going to wake up at 6:30 and then run for 30 minutes in the treadmill.

3) Develop contextual cues
If you can associate your new habit with something that you already do on regular basis then you have more chances of being successful in forming the new habit. So if you want to form the habit of keeping your room clean, tell yourself: “I will clean my room for 15 minutes after I comeback from work every day.” Therefore, you are associating the new habit (cleaning room) with a regular task (coming back from office). This will help you in initiating the new habit and sticking to it.
The Don’ts:
1) I will not eat junk food.
The Do`s:
1) If I am eating out, I will only eat fruit salads and vegetables.
First steps of education
4) The beginning is the most important and it should require least effort
Most of us fail to build a new habit because initiating a new habit requires significant amount of effort. Since beginning is the most important part of new habit formation, ideally it should require very less effort. For example, if you find that you cannot start a new diet plan only because there is a drastic change in your planned diet from your existing diet, then you should take an incremental approach towards starting the new diet. In this approach, you need to start making small and incremental changes in your diet so that over a period of time (for say two weeks) you can completely shift to your new diet. Therefore, taking a very tiny step toward you goal rather than a very ambitious and big step will help you in sticking to your new habit and reduce your chances of faltering.
The Don’ts:
1) I will exercise for one hour from tomorrow.
The Do`s:
1) I will exercise for 10 minutes from tomorrow and increase by 5 minutes every day till I reach one hour.

dont force

5) Don’t prevent, push
Don’t prevent or force to stop something, just push what is required to be done. So next time you want to stop smoking, don’t fight force yourself to stop smoking by ‘Will Power’, just push the idea that smoking is not good for your health in your mind. The more you focus on pushing what is required than preventing what needs to be stopped, the more successful you will become in sticking to your new habits. So focus on what is required and do not emphasize on what needs to be stopped.
The Don’ts:
1) I will have to reduce the amount of meat I eat every week.
The Do`s:
1) I will eat more fruits and vegetables in my meals.

Self-righteousness, Grandiosity, and Narcissism

Our performance, achievement, and our relationship are greatly affected by the worldview we have. In turn, our worldview is shaped by a large number of factors, including the environment we live in, how people think about us, how we perceive other`s thinking about us, our own beliefs about our capabilities and achievement which are result of conscious thinking and irrational and intuitive thinking.


Our intuitions can be deceiving and can make us live in a permanent state of delusion. Our delusions can be quite persistent creating a world of its own and not allowing us to live in the real world. The bad thing is that it is a downward spiral i.e. one delusion leads us to another delusions and the chain continues. Here I am specifically going to talk about self-righteousness, grandiosity and narcissism. These three are not always the same and found in the same person. However, these are closely related and are result of irrational thinking.
People with excessive Self-righteousness has the propensity to prove themselves right all the time. They put themselves through tremendous stress not to say something wrong and even if they say something wrong; they put utmost efforts to prove themselves right. They can be highly argumentative and very difficult to negotiate with.
People with grandiosity have a very heightened sense of their own capabilities or achievements. They think they have some special qualities than others; therefore, they are in a constant need of admiration and approval from others. Lack of admiration from others leads to frustration for them.
Narcissism is in excessive sense of self importance. Most narcissists try to constantly improve themselves. Narcissists tend to lack in empathy.
They best way we can get rid of any of these delusions as that being objective and conscious in judging in our own capabilities and achievements; so that we can live in the reality and achieve what we want to achieve. Being conscious is one of the most import techniques by which we can solve most of our problems. Just recognising a problem is a big step towards solving a problem. We can live a healthy, stress-free and anxiety-free life we can be rational and conscious in judging ourselves and have a balanced world-view.