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7 Signs That You Have Formed A Good Habit

7 Signs That You Have Formed A Good Habit
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A habit is a routine that you keep repeating without really thinking about it. But when does a routine become a habit? And when is a habit a good habit?

1. You are consistent.

You wake up every day at 8:30 am. That’s a habit. Even if the alarm does not go off, you still wake up at that time.

True, sometimes you might oversleep or wake up earlier. But those days are the exceptions that make the rule. The rule is your good habit of waking up at 8:30 AM.

Consistency is how you get results. Imagine exercising for two months, and then stopping. Sure, you got stronger and leaner during those two months. But what’s going to happen once you stop? Bye-bye flatter belly and leaner legs.

Build the habit so that you get to keep everything you get.

2. Doing it moves you closer to your dream life.

How’s the image of you in your dream life? Are you, say, healthy and fit?

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If it is your dream, for example, to be healthy and fit, exercising now is a good habit to have–it gets you closer to the fit image of you in your dream life.

At the same time, sinking on the couch for hours while drinking beers might be a bad habit for you–it definitely doesn’t move you closer to your dream life of a healthy and fit you.

With everything that you do, ask yourself: “Does this move me closer or farther away from my dream life?” The answer might surprise you!

3. You don’t have to use willpower to do it.

When you get in the car and put your seat-belt on, you hardly have to persuade yourself to do it. You just do it.

Now compare this to exercise. Most people have to fight with themselves to get off the couch and do it. Why? Because exercise is not yet a habit. If exercise was a habit, then these people would also just do it. Exercising would come naturally for them.

Habits don’t require willpower, and if you think they do, then that’s a sign that what you’re doing is not a habit yet.

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4. When you don’t do it, you feel “strange”.

You get in the car. You’re about to put your seat-belt on when your phone rings. You answer the phone. You then go ahead and drive, skipping the “put your seat-belt on” step.

Yet, after a few hundred feet, driving feels strange. It’s as if there’s something missing, but what is it?

Oh, right, the seat-belt!

When a behavior is a habit, it’s so ingrained in you, that if for any reason you don’t do it, it feels really weird.

That’s awesome for a good habit like exercise. When it comes to skipping a workout, you might actually feel strange and inclined to actually work out. Yet, that’s bad for bad habits like smoking; you skip a cigarette and just feel like something’s missing, so you go have a smoke.

Habits are powerful in making you act, and they’re hard to resist. Take care of what becomes a habit and what doesn’t.

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5. You take pride in doing it.

You are proud of your daily writing routine, just like writer Jeff Goins is for his. Daily writing is such a good habit to have. That’s what makes you a writer. You’re writing day in, day out. Your daily writing is what makes you who you are.

6. You find it hard to help others do it, because it’s so natural to you that you don’t know how to explain it.

Because habits can be unconscious, it might be hard to help others do what you do so naturally.

So if you’re a writer, and have the good habit of writing daily, it might be hard to help others also develop a writing routine. The reason? You don’t really know what makes you write daily. You just do it.

Sure you might come up with tips like “make writing a priority,” but your tips are generic. (Admit it!)

Yet being a bad teacher shows one thing: Writing is a very well established habit! Good for you!

Now having established good habits doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a bad at helping others create a routine. If you have struggled in developing this habit, then your chances of being a good teacher go up dramatically!

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But if writing, or exercising, or eating right, or whatever your good habit is, was natural for you to start with, then sorry, you might not be the best teacher.

7. You don’t realize you’re doing it.

A habit might be so well-established that you might not even know you’re doing it. Here’s an example. Have you noticed that some people smile when given a compliment, while others say “thank you”, while others look down because they’re shy?

All three behaviors are habits.

These individuals don’t know they have the habit of smiling, or saying “thank you”, or looking down when given a compliment.

Yet they do it, each and every time.

Similarly, do you remember putting your seat-belt on today? No?

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That’s totally normal. Putting your seat-belt on is such an ingrained habit that you just do it without thinking about it. It’s almost unconscious. A good, well-established habit that shows you have done a good job training your brain to make you wear your seat-belt when you get in the car. Nice!

So what habit do you need to work on? What is it that you want to do that makes you think you need more self-discipline, when in fact, you need to focus your attention on building the habit?

More by this author

Maria Brilaki

Maria helps people create habits that stick not just for a month or two but for years and decades.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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