Why Should You Make A New Habit?
Here’s why: September is Self-Improvement Month, and making new habits is a really great way to improve yourself and your life. Maybe you thought you had ’til January 1st to upgrade yourself and your life. But the National Calendar says the time is now.
After all, for many people the resolutions they made in January have failed by now anyway, by February actually.So now would be a good time to try again.
I always want to learn and grow this time of year. People suggest vacation ideas for this time of year, the shoulder season in many terrific places, where rates are lower and crowds are thinner.
But not for me. For me, it’s ‘back to school’ season, with the days of repentance and renewal coming up too. So, I for one have had enough vacation, gorgeous as it was. Right now, I just want to learn and grow — and improve.
Last year, for self-improvement month, I posted a few fun facts:
- National Day Calendar charges between $2,300 — $4,000 to approve a national day you may want to pitch.
- Organizations began promoting self-improvement in the 1980s, becoming a national event by 1988.
- The U.S. Spends $10.4 Billion/Year on Self-Improvement.
- The market includes:
- Motivational speakers
- Public seminars
- Holistic institutes
- Personal coaching
- Weight loss programs
- Internet courses
- Training organizations and more
…for topics, such as:
- weight loss/exercise
- business/sales skills
- business opportunities/investing
- improving relationships
- and general motivational
- In 2019, 40% of the personal development revenue went to coaching/training, followed by e-learning at 30%.
For an update of this earlier posting, consider this more recent graphic:
The global self-improvement market is estimated to reach $56.66 billion by 2027.
So personal/professional development is going strong. And one of the reasons for this just might be that growing is fun and feels good — the best antidote I know for feeling bad.
The tree wants to grow. The bird wants to fly. And so do humans. And when they don’t, they can get depressed.
So many clients have thought that their misery was the job, the spouse, the money or lack thereof, the whatever outside of themselves…when it turned out to be, simply put, that they were bored.
These clients, and so many people in general, cling to ‘same ole same ole’ habits of living that suck the excitement and enjoyment out of their lives.
It’s not that habits are bad, and we will get to what’s really good about them. It is more that old habits need to make way for the new to help us to grow and feel alive.
And that is why making new habits is a great way to kick off September, Self-Improvement Month. So, what is a habit? And how can we make and sustain a new one?
What is a Habit?
A habit is a behavior that has become automatic, according to a 2019 article published in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia. Habits can be formed and eliminated deliberately or unintentionally. We may not even be aware of some of these behaviors.
Habits help us a lot. Consider the barrage of information we face every day, “equivalent to reading 500 pages of information or an entire encyclopedia every minute.”
Because it would be humanly impossible to process all of that information consciously, we have habits or automatic and easily repeatable actions and behaviors that we don’t have to waste any energy thinking about.
That’s great, but some of those habits were put there by the 5-year-old you used to be — no doubt cute and smart, and very much meaning well by you — but a 5-year-old nonetheless.
And, really, how much do we want a 5-year-old in charge of our lives?
At the very least, it may be time for a review of the major life shaping habits of your life; like sleep, diet, exercise, or work habits, and the like.
I know people who know their lives would be better if only they…but they don’t. Often, it is more like a 2-year-old just saying “NO, I can do whatever I want,” and to assert themselves, they defy whatever it is they think themselves is right.
Basically then, any new behavior is going to have to be directed consciously and willfully by you. This means that if you wait until you ‘feel like it’, which a lot of people do, the day and the desired lifestyle change may never, ever come.
So how can we create and maintain a new habit to improve ourselves and our lives?
How We Create and Maintain a New Habit for Self-Improvement
Bear in mind that this does night happen overnight. It can begin overnight but takes time to lock into your basal ganglia, where it takes on that easy automatic life of its own that you don’t even have to think about.
We have heard that it takes 21 days to make a habit. But this was speculation in the 1960s, not science, from a cosmetic surgeon, Maxwell Maltz, who believed that’s how long it took his patients to change the mental image of their new look.
More recent studies have found between 18 and 254 days to make a habit (an average of 66 days), depending on motives, resources, self-regulation, and environmental, social, and biological influences.
So, let’s say you want to establish a more consistent sleep routine. This is, by the way, is an excellent idea. And consistency with this and any new habit is key.
How long it will take is anyone’s guess, but you will know you are getting there when it takes less effort to do the new behavior, and in fact you feel uncomfortable if you don’t.
Consistency is what plants it into your brain. Repetition is what builds the neural connections deeply in your brain that make it easy and automatic for you to upgrade in this way.
Other suggestions in addition to consistency and repetition include:
- Start small. Manageable and measurable. You can always increase over time.
- Pair with something related. What are you eating and drinking before you get into bed? Screentime? Anything in there you want to tweak at the same time?
- Is there a reward you want to pair with your new behavior? Something that delights you? Or with sleep, let’s say, is how good your feel with this new way of doing your sleep reward enough for you?
- What about a Buddy? Or some other form of accountability support system, like coaching, e-learning — to help maintain whatever new habit(s) you want to invite into your life.\
Above all, I would say know your WHY — your very own reason for wanting to take on the effort that this will be until it takes hold — because this is what will keep you from rebelling against and defeating yourself. 😉
Practice, practice, practice…see what happens and let us know.
Photo by Freepik