Updated: Dec 9, 2022
When we repeat an action, behaviour or thought enough times, it becomes ingrained in the subconscious mind and becomes an automated process. The brain is always looking for the path of least resistance as a means of energy conservation.
Good habits can be difficult to build, but there are steps you can take to maximize your chance of building them. Let's also be clear on what a good habit is. A good habit is one that benefits you and the world, whilst also not creating any harm or damage to others. You may have built some habits that have helped you be "successful" or "wealthy", but if this is at the expense and misery of others, then it's far from a good habit.
How does a habit form?
Science estimates that it takes approximately 2 months for a habit to develop. If you want to build a habit of meditating 5 times a week at 9pm before bed, at first you have to consciously put effort into repeating the act for at least 2 months and remove any resistance.
To remove resistance, you must make the environment conducive to the habit. For example, people fall into the trap of meditating in their bed and wondering why they can’t focus or fall asleep easily. When most of your time in bed is sleeping, isn’t it obvious why your body takes over and produces a sleepy or dreamy state? You’ll also notice if you reflect on your night routine - toilet, brushing teeth, perhaps a shower - none of this really requires any thought. You just do it.
Your biggest obstacle, however, is going to be your own mind. All the excuses and negativities that fill your mind will eclipse your consciousness and give you all sorts of reasons to not meditate. Given that we have 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day (most of them repetitious and negative), it can be an uphill battle dependent on the shape of your mind.
If you have lived a life of being successful and achieving your goals, building a habit will be easy. But if you’re the opposite, building a habit can be next to impossible. You’ll have all sorts of “evidence” in your mind as to why you can’t, why you’re a failure, something else you need to do, why it doesn’t work. None of which is real. So, you need a process for building a good habit.
Tips to building a good habit
1) Make your environment conducive to the habit.
If you want to stop eating bad food, stop stocking your pantry with bad food. If you want to meditate once a day, put your phone on silent and find a place your body and mind can recognize as your meditation space.
2) Remove the resistance from your mind.
“I can’t do it” “I’m a failure” “I always give up” “So what if I build this habit, I’m still going to be useless”.
Aren’t you trying to change? Why be enslaved to those thoughts? Get rid of it from your mind. Discard it through meditation.
3) Consistency is the key.
It’s better to meditate for 10 minutes every day for 1000 days, than 1000 minutes in 1 day. You need to build the consistency in your mind, so it becomes ingrained in your subconscious.
4) Forget motivation, it’s all about discipline.
Do you think successful people feel like meditating every day? Feel like going to the gym at 5am? Of course not! They do it despite how they feel. Don’t fall into the trap of waiting to be motivated.
5) Ignore the time trap.
Record your day, hour by hour, and see how you use your time. Show your mind exactly how much time you have and see if you can adjust your days. Take time for yourself!
6) Build 1 habit at a time.
If you want to change your whole life, do it 1 step at a time, 1 day at a time. Plan your progress as best you can, and then tackle your habits one at a time. Bad habits tend to compound with other bad habits, so keep it simple until you build momentum. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
7) Learn from the experts.
Surround yourself with the right people in the right environment to build the habits you want. If you want to learn to meditate, you should go to the place that teaches it, and to the people who are the experts in it.