We all want to effortlessly develop new habits. Ideally we want them to be second nature, not something we consciously think about and have to constantly set reminders for. You probably don’t have to force yourself to brush your teeth in the morning - it’s just a habit you do without thinking.
Raise your hand if you decided to start something “from Monday” but you either barely had a plan or made it so overwhelmingly strict that you immediately realised it’s not worth the effort and slid back into your old usual ways.
But if you manage these first few days, is the new thing actually a habit? Not really.
It takes 40 days to break an old habit.
It takes 90 days to establish a new habit.
It takes 120 days for this new habit to get ingrained.
It takes 1000 days to fully master this new habit to a point where it’s second nature.
Where to start?
First, choose what your new habit or self-care ritual will be. Will it be to move more often, to decrease your screen time, to cook more meals at home or to start writing every day?
Start simple. You don’t want to completely overhaul your life or decide to change so many habits at once that your whole day becomes a race to finish all your target habits.
Set yourself some realistic goals. If for example you want to read more books, don’t set a goal to read a book a day, just commit to 10 pages or half an hour a day. Achieving your daily goal will give you a sense of accomplishment and will supercharge you with motivation for the next. The opposite will make you feel like a failure and fill you with dread.
Another good trick is to think about when this new habit will fit in your daily routine. You don’t have to think about when to brush your teeth, do you? For example, with the reading goal, decide to read before going to sleep (added benefit of reducing screen time and activate your parasympathetic nervous system) or as part of your morning routine.
Whatever you decide, make a calendar on a piece of paper - give yourself 40, 90 or even 120 days - with a little cross for each day. When you complete your habit for the day, cross the square. Evaluate how you feel after 40 days. Make a note and keep going. Do another check in at 90 days. Do you feel any different? Write it down and continue. And so on. Soon enough you’ll notice what feels good and what doesn’t. You don’t have to struggle for change, once you start paying attention, the change will come effortlessly. Because you’ll know it feels good.
Be happy with being imperfect. There will be days when life gets in the way. No judgement, but I’m sure there have been days when you didn’t brush your teeth twice either. Acknowledge the fact that these days will exist and confidently continue following your path.
Do it for yourself. Don’t worry about things that you “should” have as habits. Make sure you are doing something just because it makes you happy or more fulfilled. It takes too much effort to do it just because someone or something expects you to!