We all have habits…repetitive behaviors we almost automatically do over and over and over again.  When young, most of us had parents who “helped” us choose our habits whether we liked it or not.  “Brush your teeth, clean your room, sit up straight, etc.” and eventually we did.  When older, we choose and form our habits for ourselves.  But, how do we choose/form our habits and why?

UCLA completed a study in 2010 that told us we choose and form particular habits through determination, not skill.  Skill building depends on aptitude and experience and it certainly doesn’t take any skill or aptitude to quit smoking…you start to quit smoking by committing to quitting.  It doesn’t take a new skill to go to the gym…you start going to the gym by committing to going to the gym.  It doesn’t take a new skill to make five cold calls every day…you start by making those calls.  The habits of quitting smoking and going to the gym depend on how determined you are to quit, to go and to make those 5 calls…every day.

Then, according to UCLA, after an average of 66 days of being determined to go to the gym or quit smoking, that repetitive behavior of going or quitting will become habit.  No getting around it.  You have to “show up” with determination to do that same repetitive behavior for 66 days.

It can’t be faster but it can be easier to form good habits and/or break bad habits by using some of these tips:

  1. Go one day a week (or one hour a day) with “NO Social Media.”  Most of us spend 2 hours a day or 60 hours a month with social media!  Unplug to help yourself re-center and adjust your focus on useful and/or important things…you won’t miss out or be left behind if your fingers are not on the pulse of the world at all times of the day and night.
  2. Make speed reading part of your day.  Go for a goal of reading 1,500 words/minute instead of the average 300 words/minute and you’ll read in 50 minutes what it takes most adults 5.5 hours to read.  And, you’ll find that you’ll get to what you need to know/the heart of things much faster.
  3. Write done 10 random thoughts every day.  Write them on a piece of paper as the physical act of writing/printing helps you flush ideas and thoughts out of your head.  Then your brain will have room for more ideas and thoughts.
  4. Listen to new music at least once a week.  Try a sound you’ve never heard before.  If you don’t like it, change it.  This “newness” will expand your ideas, your horizons, your thoughts.
  5. Go for a 30 minute walk every day.  It’s good for your health.  It’s good for your dog.
  6. Wake up an hour (or 15 minutes) earlier and stretch.  Stretching eases muscle soreness and pain, improves circulation and posture, improves alertness and energy which in turn improves productivity.
  7. Meditate 10 minutes daily.  Meditation is one of few activities (and walking too) that is shown by research to improve brain health over time.

Reminding yourself why you’re so determined to quit smoking or go to the gym or make those calls will help.