As a life coach, part of my job is to help people form new habits that will help them discover, unlock, and become the best version of themselves. This often requires the breaking of old habits that are holding my clients back. This can often be a difficult task. In my own life, I have had similar struggles when trying to break old habits in order to make room for new ones that can help me improve my life. It was always very interesting (and frustrating) to me that a simple habit like nail biting could be so tough to stop.
To be honest, I spent a lot of time overthinking this. Maybe I just have a nervous disposition. Maybe some of my bad habits are coping mechanisms that I use to avoid dealing with something from my past. It turns out that the reason why I was having trouble breaking some of these habits didn’t have much to do with any of that. The reason why I was having trouble was because I had been doing this habit for so long, that it had become a part of my lifestyle.
What is a Habit?
The dictionary defines a habit as “
How to Create a Habit
A non-addictive habit (i.e. any habit that doesn’t include a mood or mind-altering substance) doesn’t get created overnight. In fact, it takes about 21 days for a behavior pattern to become a full-blown habit. For example, when I decided to change my morning routine, I had to force myself to get out of bed without hitting the snooze button, meditate, do yoga, and eat breakfast. These things did not come naturally. However, now that I’m about 3 weeks in, I hop out of bed and head to my office (that’s where I meditate) almost without thinking about it. From there it’s easy to roll out my yoga mat, and after that it’s almost second nature to head to the kitchen and make breakfast (something I never did before.) My morning routine has now become a full-fledged habit.
Habits Can be Broken Easily (When it’s Still a Habit)
When a habit is just that and nothing more, it can still be broken fairly easily. All it takes is one day of me deciding I’d rather sleep for an extra 20 minutes to start slipping back into my unhealthy lifestyle. In order to protect myself from doing that, I need to continue practicing these new habits until they become a part of a new, healthier lifestyle.
What is a Lifestyle?
A lifestyle, referring again to the dictionary is “the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group.”
How to Create a Lifestyle
In order to create a new lifestyle, one needs new habits, attitudes, tastes, and moral standards. Sticking with the idea that mood follows action, my new lifestyle has to begin with new habits. The process of making your habits a part of your new lifestyle usually takes about 90 days. After that, your actions start to affect your attitude, tastes, moral standards, and sometimes even your economic status. In short, sticking with your new habits has the power to change your life on all levels.
Lifestyles are Harder to Break than Habits
Your lifestyle is ultimately defined by your habits; by the actions that you take on a daily basis. Breaking a habit that’s a part of your lifestyle is difficult, because it would go against everything that is important to you. This is one of the reasons why alcoholics and addicts have a hard time staying clean and sober, even after the toxins have left their system. Until they develop new habits and practice them long enough to make them a part of their lifestyle, it’s easy to go back to old behavior.
Change Your Habits, Change Your Lifestyle
If you are looking to create a better life for yourself, one of the things you will have to do is form new habits to replace the existing habits that are holding you back. From there, you only need to keep practicing until those new habits start to become a part of a new lifestyle, improving your mental state, mood, and life.
It takes 21 days to create a new habit, and 90 days to create a lifestyle. So keep pushing, and start building a life that you love.