A positive life is built on the foundation of positive habits. Positive habits are the daily stone-work that build us up into who we want to be, ideally. Forming these habits isn’t hard with the right framework, tools, and accountability.
At Füm™, we have been helping people create positive habits for the past three years and have specifically helped over 500 customers reduce and/or quit their smoking habit.
In this blog, we will walk you through why habit formation is important, how to actually make your habits stick, how to choose your habits, and offer a few tools that make the journey both easy and fun!
What is Habit Formation, and Why Does it Matter?
Habits are those regularly occurring activities or actions in our lives that are hard to give up--both good and bad. They are the daily steps taking us towards a destination--positive or negative.
Forming positive habits drastically changes the outcome of one’s life, and it’s not complex. Simple, easy, and repeatable habits can add years to your life, increase your mood, get you that job, and create lasting fulfillment in your everyday life. The process of implementing these habits is called “Habit Formation.”
In this guide, we will walk you through how to make a habit stick by choosing the right place to start. So, buckle up, grab your notebook and coffee (unless you’re trying to quit caffeine) and settle in for a voyage into a better you.
How to Start Forming Habits
Step One: Identify the Destination
Before you start jumping into the newest exercise fad, take a step back and ask yourself why?
Immediately, you may want to jump into a new habit because you’ve been told it’s good, like hitting the gym. Why? Are you only doing it for the sake of doing it? OR is there a deeper sense of purpose?
Perhaps you fear the inability to do physical sports with your kids or grandkids when you reach a certain age. In that case, perhaps the habit you want to form hinges on staying physically healthy through eating, running, working out, etc.
It’s important to see how our daily actions are leading us towards a future destination--one we are either proud of or afraid of.
As each habit we have in our life is leading us somewhere, evaluate where you want to be and deconstruct the steps that get you there. Break the journey down into simple and achievable steps (i.e. habits) and begin with one.
Step Two: Start Simple
When I was in college, I set a personal goal of reading 52 books in a year. The previous year, I had read maybe two outside of my school texts… the goal was a bit ambitious. To my surprise, I made it nearly 13 weeks reading one book per week and then gave up entirely and read but one more over the rest of the year. To accomplish my initial goal of reading 52 books in the year, I would’ve had to read at a pace of 57 pages read per day. Which I had not built the stamina for.
I burnt out. And I wasn’t better off for it. In hindsight, if I had set a goal of reading only 17 pages per day, I would have, by average page count of NYT Bestsellers, have completed 15 books over the year. Two more than what I achieved.
Starting small and developing stamina is key. The easier you can make the habit, the more likely it will stick.
If you haven’t been running, and you want to run 10 miles a day, maybe begin with 1 mile. Look to add to smaller habits than chase after ambitious, big habits first
Step Three: Measure Your Progress
How do you know you’ve formed a habit? How do you know it’s stuck? Well, if you are still on Google finding blogs like this it probably hasn’t… seriously, a fully formed habit should feel addictive (in a good way). A properly formed habit should be hard NOT to do.
More practically, one form of measurement can be a habit tracker. A physical or digital method of logging the data of your journey. This won’t make or break your ability to form habits, however, it really helps reinforce the effort you are putting in.
Try to set a tangible daily goal that is reasonable for 30 days and set up a tracker to go alongside (download one online or make your own!). 30 days is typically a good amount of time to begin evaluating the benefits. If you are finding it too easy, up it! If it’s just right, keep it going! If it’s too hard, go easy on yourself.
A habit tracker serves two purposes: visual accountability and progress measurement.
Visually checking off a box daily stimulates a quick mood boost for the ego and helps to reinforce the positive momentum you are creating.
Measurement helps to keep us going over the long term. If we don’t track improvement (and in some cases, set backs), we are hindering our ability to celebrate! Habit, track, celebrate, repeat.
Habit Formation is a Journey
Forming a new habit is a journey. This journey comes with all sorts of twists, turns, and unexpected surprises. Enjoy the struggle--we’re human.
Laugh it off, go easy on yourself, and get back up. One of the greatest pieces of advice from habit experts, like James Clear and Matt D’Avella, is to “never miss twice.” It’s okay to skip a day here and there, but to skip two in a row decreases your chances of making that habit stick by a long shot!
A second tip, focus on incremental growth. Increasing 1% a day continually is better than trying to increase too much too quickly and giving up because it gets too hard.
Lastly, tell a friend. A journey is always more fun with a companion. They don’t necessarily have to be forming the same habit, but having someone who checks in on you or that you report to is great accountability for forming your new habit.
To wrap it up...
Habit formation is fun... At least it can be. Make it your own by creating your own goal by knowing where you want to be, why you want to be there, and the simple and repeatable steps you can take today to get there.
We’ve made a handy habit tracker that promotes simplicity you can download for free to help you conquer your habits.
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