Changing a habit: How to develop new routines

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Changing a habit: How to develop new routines

A habit is a way of acting that you constantly repeat in your everyday life. This can be done consciously or unconsciously. Habits are not necessarily negative - quite the opposite. They give structure to our lives. Another term for habit is routine. This helps you to concentrate on the essentials in everyday life.

Habits therefore provide security, yet not all cherished behaviors are good for us. Good examples of bad habits are smoking or the excessive consumption of sweets. The plan to change a once internalized habit is not so easy to implement. Change a habit? In the following we would like to show you how you can still succeed.

Change Habit: How do these routines actually come about?

Most habits are formed quite automatically. The human brain is programmed to want to orient itself in new situations as quickly as possible.

Example: Have you ever noticed that on the bus - if possible - you almost always sit in the same seat without giving it much thought?

Surely you can't remember the first time in your life when you rode a bus. Perhaps you have already sat down in this seat and your subconscious has internalized this. A Student Experiment by Bas Verplanken, a well-known professor of social psychology, revealed similar findings.

It used to be assumed that people acquired most of their habits within the first ten years of life. However, this assumption is now considered outdated. Instead, it can be assumed that throughout a person's life, in every new situation, he or she Routines the habit. You can use this knowledge to your advantage in the future!

Examples of 15 good habits

The following 15 habits will have a positive impact on your life and daily routine:

  1. Punctuality
  2. Sufficient sleep
  3. Development of a Morning Routine
  4. Healthy diet
  5. Sports
  6. Attention to the work-life balance
  7. Read
  8. Gratitude
  9. Curiosity
  10. sociability
  11. Accepting challenges
  12. Neatness
  13. Regular time out from social media
  14. Helpfullness
  15. Encouragement from other people

Examples of 15 bad habits

The following habits have a detrimental effect on your daily life and on your future:

  1. tobacco use
  2. consumption of alcohol
  3. Unhealthy diet
  4. Lack of exercise
  5. Unpunctuality
  6. Brooding
  7. putting off unpleasant tasks
  8. Telltale secrets
  9. Picking your nose
  10. Constant mobile phone use
  11. Watching TV too long
  12. Choleric defiance
  13. Blasphemies
  14. Lies
  15. Unstructured daily routine
bad habits

Why do we develop bad habits in the first place?

Bad habits include not only those behaviors that have been proven to be harmful to your health, but also those that you personally find annoying. But why do you perform harmful actions against your better judgement? Let's take a closer look at that below.

Habits follow a fairly simple psychological pattern:

  1. Triggering stimulus (e.g. stress)
  2. Behaviour (carrying out the habit)
  3. Stimulation of the reward system in the brain

In unpleasant situations, most people quickly look for an outlet to feel better. Anyone who has once learned that a glass of wine or a cigarette relaxes them will probably reach for alcohol or nicotine again in the next stressful situation. At some point, body and psyche literally demand the usual stimulation. If this does not happen, there is no Relaxation on.

Habits originate in the brain

This is not an imagination, but can even be explained on a physiological level: When you perform the habit you're used to (in this case, a bad habit), your body releases the hormones serotonin and dopamine. These are happy hormones that help you feel good all around. What sounds positive at first, however, can be the beginning of a vicious circle.

Even though you are aware of the harmfulness, sometimes it seems impossible to let go of the habit. This mechanism is similar to typical addictive behaviors. In fact, habits can develop into addictions. But it doesn't have to get that far! The first step to change is already to understand the connections.

An interesting scientific article on the subject of the reward system can be found at here.

Change Habit: The difference between habits of behavior, habits of feeling and habits of thinking

So far, we have focused primarily on behavioral habits. When it comes to wanting to change a habit, in most cases this means a behavioral habit. The latter is the most obvious to both you and other people. Changing a habit that relates to behavior is easy compared to changing habits of feeling and thinking.

What are habits of thought?

Our thinking habits influence how we judge ourselves and other people. When a stranger enters the room, we immediately make an unconscious judgment based on our previous experiences. People are involuntarily stereotyped: How old? How experienced? Influential or not? Poor or wealthy? Eloquent or not? Friendly or unfriendly?

These stereotypes can be useful. In many cases, however, they prevent us from encountering strangers in an unbiased way. Misjudgements are inevitable. Fortunately, a wrong first impression can usually be revised quickly when you get to know the person in question better. But is there also a way to influence thinking habits from the outset?

This is not so easy, because thought patterns are often firmly anchored in our subconscious. By the way, this also applies to your self-image! The most helpful thing is to make yourself aware and above all to acceptthat habits of thought do exist. It is neither useful nor possible to eliminate them completely - but to transform them.

The next time you meet a stranger, you should first stop and observe yourself: Have you already formed a picture, even though you have not yet exchanged a single word with each other? In this case, it is useful to say to yourself, "These assessments are based on my habits of thought. They are by no means necessarily correct."

What are emotional habits?

Emotional habits reflect our mentality. Some people have a sensitive disposition and are easily unsettled. Others are robust and are hardly impressed by external influences. Your emotional habits determine with which Emotion you react to different stimuli.

Emotional habits are part of your personality and therefore difficult to change. If certain emotional habits are bothering you, the best approach is to change your Self-confidence strengthen. You can succeed in this by increasingly using your Comfort zone and thus experience that there is no reason for your unwanted emotional reactions (e.g. nervousness).

In the case of very distressing emotional habits, a professional Coaching or psychotherapy can provide successful relief.

habits psychology

Change Habit: When does that make sense to me?

When you should change a habit, you know intuitively in many cases. Rationally, most people are often fully aware of which habits are harmful to them. For example, it is common knowledge that smoking, alcohol and lack of exercise are detrimental to your health.

It is always and without reservation worthwhile to give up habits that have been proven to be harmful: Your health will thank you for it. It is also important to change habits that cause you suffering. So you see: Your personal feelings in combination with common sense are a good indicator for necessary changes.

How long does it take to change a habit?

Many small habits of everyday life are automatisms, e.g. the order in which you put on your shoes or which side you start with when brushing your teeth. But there are also behaviors that we consciously train ourselves. Let's say you want to practice yoga for twenty minutes every morning before work. This is a conscious decision.

So you have to actively make changes to establish the desired habit in your daily life. In our yoga example, it would be getting up earlier and being more physically active. What you may feel like an overcoming at first, will eventually become the norm. The prerequisite is that you continuously stay on the ball. Even small interruptions can boycott your new routine.

The psychologist Phillippa Lally from the University College in London could in a Study determine that on average 66 days takes to integrate a new habit into everyday life. After this period, the change becomes automatic.

Change Habit: Why is it so hard?

You know by now that habits give you security. This also applies to bad habits. Letting go of a constant, no matter what kind, is always difficult. On the one hand, this is due to the fear of the unknown. However, there are other blockages that prevent you from being able to change a habit:

1. you take on too much at once

Changing a single habit takes a full 66 days and requires a great deal of willpower. When you're literally working on multiple sites at once, the risk of overextending yourself and failing altogether increases. Our Tip: Take it one habit at a time!

If the overall change is a big one, it makes sense to divide it into several stages. In this way, you will achieve a sense of achievement more quickly, which will in turn have a positive effect on your Motivation having an effect.

2. you do not know the trigger of your bad habit(s)

Every (bad) habit serves a function. Do you reach for the chip bag in the evening because you're stressed from your day at work? Or is perhaps rather Loneliness the reason? Only if you determine which Needs underlying your bad habit, you can actively fight it. Think about how you can fulfill your desires instead.

Example: If you're feeling lonely, call a loved one instead of reaching for the chip bag. If you're stressed, exercise will help.

3. you act out of the wrong motivation

Sometimes we think we have to change a habit because someone criticized us. Question your motives for the desired change. A new habit can only be formed successful if you want to do it yourself. Discipline and perseverance cannot be forced by external pressure.

If you feel that you are not ready for the change in question, then you should take the necessary time.

break habits

Change habit: 6 tips that will really help you

Want to change an unloved habit? Then you should take the following tips to heart:

1. name your project concretely

To change a habit, you need to be as specific as possible about what you want the change to look like. The human brain depends on clear messages. Vague formulations Objectivesthat leave room for speculation and evasive tactics are doomed to fail.

Possible examples:

  • I will not drink alcohol in the future.
  • I will turn off my cell phone every weekday after work.
  • To stop biting my fingernails when I'm nervous, I buy an anti-stress ball.

2. avoid trigger points

A trigger is a stimulus that triggers unwanted or harmful behavior. So the first step is to identify your personal trigger points. These can be places, people, smells, times of day or certain situations. Avoid these triggers if possible.

If your trigger points are unavoidable, you need to react to them differently. We will go into this in more detail in the fourth tip.

3. set up a realistic time schedule

Changing a habit is a process that Patience and stamina is required. Also the integration of positive changes takes time.

It can be helpful to create an overview for yourself: What could the partial steps to the big goal look like and in what time can they be achieved? Important: Set yourself realistic goals so that you don't overwhelmed and give up discouraged. Be sure to keep your schedule in writing.

4. find healthy alternatives

Not all triggering stimuli of bad habits can be avoided. No person can escape from stress, anger and sadness in the long run. Unpleasant situations are part of life. The important thing is to stop reacting destructively in the future. Ask yourself what could help you instead of your usual habits.

Example: Have you always bitten your nails when you're nervous? Then keep your hands busy by learning to knit or kneading a stress ball.

5. inform friends and family about your plans

You want to quit smoking or eat healthier in the future? Then share your plan. Initiating others can boost your motivation. It's been proven that people who have already announced a change are less likely to give up. It's also a great way to get encouragement and support. In addition, trigger points are avoided, e.g. by your relatives no longer offering you alcohol.

However, pay attention to your inner voice: For some people, telling others about their plans puts too much pressure on them. If they don't succeed, the expectations of friends and family can be demotivating.

6. reward yourself for your successes

Rewards are a good tool for persevering through change. Of course, they should not be counterproductive! For example, it won't do you much good to reward yourself with a greasy pizza for every exercise session. How about treating yourself to a nice bubble bath instead?

Another popular reward system to be able to change a habit works with money: Put one euro in a piggy bank for every smoke-free day / for every kilo lost / for every punctual appearance. At the end of the 66 days, use the money you saved to make a wish come true.

Change habit with our Visions Challenge

Changing a habit is difficult, but you may become aware of your actions more and more often. In some cases, external impulses are necessary for this. If you ask yourself what really drives you inside, our seven-day Greator Vision Challenge is just right for you. Recognize which blockages are holding you back and why you cling to some bad habits.

You can expect seven professional coaching videos with different topics. Among other things, you will learn how to improve your charisma and how to leave your comfort zone. At the end of the week you will have created your personal vision of your desired future.

To get your Support learning processYou will also receive your personal vision book with extensive exercises. Four guided meditations support you in finding your inner center. Does all this sound appealing to you? Then don't miss out on the chance of your dream future! Sign up today free of charge for the Visions Challenge on!


A guide for your future
- Find your true vision

Do you know what really drives you at the core? With just three simple exercises, you will be able to visualize your energy, identify your desires, and define your biggest goal!



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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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