It’s not hard to make a decision that impacts your life. Even small and simple changes can make a big difference if you make them where they really count.
Here is an experiment you can try in changing one small habit in your daily routine. The goal is to try it out successfully for one full week, then re-evaluate whether you would like to continue the habit change in the future.
Step 1: Choose one habit
We all know the kinds of habits we want to change. They aren’t hard to think of. The problem is focusing in on one and putting in the effort to make it happen.
Concentrating all your energy on one habit is often better than trying to change too much at once. When we spread our efforts too thin, we burn out easily and nothing gets accomplished.
However, when we focus on one small but meaningful change, we are more likely to see it become a reality. Not to mention we build more momentum to make changes in the future.
If you can’t think of any small change to make, consider one of these common suggestions:
- Substitute every glass of soda with a glass of water.
- Wake up an hour early every morning.
- Sacrifice 15-30 minutes of TV each day and meditate instead.
- Read a chapter of a novel every night before bed.
- Do 10 push-ups every time you want to smoke a cigarette.
- Floss every morning.
- Write a blog/journal entry once a day.
- Make time in your schedule to jog a mile each day.
- Plan 2-4 social interactions throughout the week.
Remember to only choose one of these habits at a time. Also, try to choose something that is relevant to an area in your life that you want to improve.
Step 2: Stay committed
Now that you have chosen your habit to practice for the week, the key is staying committed.
Because you are only making one simple change, try to be as disciplined as possible about it. If you slip up once, that’s fine, but try to not even let that happen. Remember, you are only trying to stay committed for one week, so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.
Here are some suggestions to keep you motivated:
- Repeat an affirmation 10 times right when you wake up: “I will do X today.”
- Leave appropriate reminders around the house, such as a sticky note on your kitchen cabinet.
- Tell a couple supportive friends about your goal. Have them keep you accountable.
- Take 5 minutes and imagine yourself doing the habit. This kind of visualization can prepare you to do the action when it’s time.
- Notice the bigger picture. How can this habit benefit you in the long-term?
- Avoid excuses. It’s just one week, really.
Step 3: Evaluate your progress
Once the week is completed, take the time to reflect and ask yourself:
- Was this habit change worth it?
- How did it change my thoughts and emotions?
- How did it change my behavior?
- Did it improve the overall quality of my life?
- Is this a change I want to continue in the future?
If the answers to these questions are positive, then consider sustaining your new habit into the future. If not, scratch the new habit and try something different.
There are always adjustments to make in life. That doesn’t mean every new thing we try is going to be the best possible choice, but we should always consider room for improvement.
I hope this article has provided you with a simple and easy-to-use framework for trying new habits. A big part of self-improvement is experimentation and trial-and-error. This exercise encourages us to try new habits without feeling like they are set in stone.
Check out The Science of Self Improvement to learn more valuable tools and techniques to help improve yourself on a daily basis.