How to Form New Habits or Change Habits

Editor: This is a guest article, carefully selected for your benefit. This is a great article from someone who has made many BIG changes in life. Learn and you can change, too.

The Secret Rule of Changing Anything

Post written by Leo Babauta

This might seem like a lot to change, if you’re not already doing these things, but let me share something with you: I changed all of these in the last 6 years.

In 2005, I was incredibly unhealthy. Then I learned to change my habits, and slowly I:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Started running.
  • Became vegan.
  • Lost 70 lbs.
  • Cleaned up my diet and got rid of unhealthy stuff.
  • Simplified my life and reduced stress.
  • Cut drinking down to 1-2 glasses of red wine a day.

I did it, and so can you. I changed one habit at a time, slowly, in tiny tiny steps, and it wasn’t hard. Don’t try to change everything, and don’t make it hard on yourself. It’s actually very easy if you’re patience and if you just start.

Here’s how to change these habits:

  • Change only one habit at a time. It doesn’t matter which habit you choose. Just choose one. You’ll want to do more than one, but don’t.
  • Create positive habits you enjoy. Read the last word again — if you enjoy it, the habit change will be easy. Replace smoking with positive habits you enjoy that fulfill the needs that smoking now fulfills (stress reduction, social lubrication, boredom relief, etc.). Replace red meats with healthy foods you enjoy.
  • Start as small as possible. Just do 5 minutes the first week, and try to be consistent as possible. Then do 10 minutes. Small change is by far the most effective method I’ve used for changing habits. Slow change lasts.
  • Make it social. Find a partner or group to change the habit with you, so you’re more likely to stick with it.

These work. I’ve done them many times, and every time I stick to these principles, I’ve changed a habit.

Healthy living isn’t impossible, or even especially difficult. It’s just slower to come by than most people care for.

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