Forming New Habits

 In Blog

Winning is a habit. Good habits lead to success, and forming those habits is something that you should practice intentionally. Habits do sometimes form automatically, but you can’t count on that to happen.

And most bad habits, like plopping front of the TV every evening with a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, start when you do something repetitively without giving it much consideration. You could instead habitually plop a workout DVD in the player and sweat for a half hour.

So let’s say for example that you want to start a habit of including audio clips in your entertainment news. Here are some tips on getting that habit started:

Do it for 66 days
. You may have heard conventional wisdom that most habits take around three weeks to form. That is incorrect, according to a University College London study called “How Habits Form.”

You can form some habits in 21 days, but those habits are easy to derail when you encounter a change in routine, like vacation. The study says that to really set your habits in concrete, most people have to practice it for just over two months.

Instigation is everything
. You can say “I’d like to add more audio to the show” all day, but until you take that first step in putting that intention into action, it’s all talk. So how can you cue yourself to actually do it?

A recent article Dr. Allison Phillips in the journal “Health Psychology” states that a crucial key to good habits is instigation. For example, if you want to begin jogging every morning, set your running clothes, shoes, watch, headphones and etc. by your bed the night before. That way, you are less likely to forget or become derailed by Facebook.

Instigation helps you overcome the power of your bad habits too. Bookmark the home screen on your internet browser at work to an audio clip website so that when you power up in the morning, you see that page before you see Huntington Post or

Take out bad, insert good
. Wisdom among professional animal trainers says that you cannot teach an animal to NOT do something. You can only teach them to do something else. The same rule applies to people, and to you.

In the book “Power Of Habit,” Charles Duhigg advocates rewarding yourself when you do the new thing instead of the old thing.

Quitting smoking, for example, is less successful if you don’t replace the act of smoking with some other more healthy activity like walking. You could NOT smoke, and just sit at your desk for those five minutes wishing you had a smoke. Or, you could reward yourself with a nice walk in the fresh air, play 5 minutes of a game on your phone, or something else.

Perfection doesn’t matter
So you have been practicing your habit of adding audio to your show for 18 days in a row. But somehow on day 19, you just forget. Do you have to start all over again?

No. Experts say that occasional misses don’t matter. An exercise habit that gets canceled for one day because of a schedule conflict is no big deal, just get back in the groove the next day and be mindful that picking up your habit again will be harder with each passing day that you don’t practice it. Use technology and schedules. If you don’t put it on your calendar, it is less likely to happen.

We tell shows to make a time on the schedule for a weekly planning meeting, for example, because without setting that appointment with a time and day, the meeting is not going to happen. There are also lots of apps that help you form habits. Check out Way Of Life, Carrot, (which calls you rude names if you miss a habit) Lift and Habit Bull are just a few.

You know what they say about the road to hell and good intentions. Take your good intentions and put some effort into turning them into positive habits that will benefit your show, your career, your creative habits and your personal health and happiness. You might also check out this blog post from Zen Habits entitled “I Suck At Habits: How Do I Get Better?”

Photo Credit: Simon Carr/Flickr

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