Habit Hacks That Will Change Your Life
Are you looking for actionable habit hacks to help you improve your chances of creating better habits? Creating good habits can be difficult. Many of us start off doing something new with good intentions but quickly fall back into old habits. We fall back into a place of comfort and it’s understandable why we do.
We start off highly motivated, perhaps it’s the start of a new year or a big life event had made us think we need to change. We become highly motivated at the time. However, motivation can only get you so far. It’s a fleeting emotion that comes in waves but isn’t consistent!
We all know we could be losing a few pounds, ditching smoking or making more effort with loved ones. We talk about changing but we rarely take action, the action we need to take over and over again until we’re doing new things through habit.
Creating better habits is almost impossible if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s even harder if you bite off more than you can chew from the get-go. The key to creating good habits is to start with something small and actionable, something you know you’ll be able to do each day without fail. If you want to find out more about how to create better habits, read more here to learn about the habit loop.
Habit hacks to change your life
Whilst habit hacks to change your life may sound dramatic, I believe it’s the small actions you do each day that shape your entire life. Therefore, if you can make small changes you can literally change your life over time.
For example, if you eat a 150-calorie bag of chips every day you’ll add an extra 54,750 calories to your diet over a year. That’s potentially an extra 15 lb of weight if you’re not active.
Similarly, If you cut 200 calories out of your diet each day over the course of a few of months, there’s a good chance you can lose a few pounds of fat.
Small changes over time lead to big results. Half the battle is trusting & committing to the process.
The following habits hacks are key to ensuring your new habits last. They are components you must be mindful of before you begin because they will determine your level of success. Many of us jump into trying new habits without understanding important factors like why we’re truly doing something new or if we’re even doing the right kind of things in the first place to get the desired end result.
1. Keep it simple
The biggest habit hack you need to remember is to keep it simple and small. That means starting a habit that you know you can do over and over again without fail. Even if it’s a slightly large habit you want to achieve, you can always break it down into smaller chunks to start with.
If your goal is too huge to begin with you’ll end up like a beginner weight lifter trying to deadlift 300 lb without any prior training…not a good idea! You’ll simply fail, give up and tell yourself you were never cut out for it in the first place.
Let’s say your new habit is to journal each morning before you go to work. In the hustle and bustle of getting ready to go out in the morning, it’s the kind of habit that’s easy to blow off. You eat your breakfast, drink your coffee and sit watching TV leaving little time to write. Whilst you may have your heart set on writing a full page, you can instead jot a couple of sentences down to dip your toe in.
2. Take inventory of your day
Another one of my important habit hacks is to take inventory of your day before you try and create a new habit. A good way to do this is to break your day down by the hour. Let’s assume you sleep for 8 hours leaving you 16 waking hours. These are the hours where you’re going about your existing routine.
Now you just need to break those 16 hours down and look at what you’re currently doing. Let’s also assume you wake up at 7 am and start work at 9 am. That gives you two free hours. However, you’re likely getting ready for work and travelling for at least one of those hours so that leaves you with one hour realistically to do something.
If you work from 9 am to 5 pm you’ll likely have from 6 pm to 11 pm before you go to bed or at least get to sleep, taking into account that 5 pm to 6 pm will be taken up by finishing up at work and travelling home. This gives you five free hours.
We can also assume you have an hour lunch break in the afternoon which you can class as a ‘free hour’ to complete a new habit.
One of those five hours in the evening will be used to cook and eat leaving you with four hours free where you’re likely relaxing.
one hour in the morning + one hour on your lunch break + four hours in the evening = 6 ‘free hours‘.
Of course, every day will be different for example you may have a class or club you attend on a Monday or you may have to take your child somewhere once or twice a week in the evening. This framework of working backwards helps you identify the most realistic times for doing your new habit rather than trying to fit things in on the fly.
3. Don’t reward yourself
One of the best habit hacks to make sure that a habit sticks is to refrain from rewarding yourself for completing your habit. The completion of your new habit should be rewarding enough in itself. For example, how many times have you done a great workout at the gym and then rewarded yourself with a bottle of wine or a meal out? You tell yourself that you have been so good all week so you deserve a treat as if you’re talking to one of your children.
You may also reward yourself by posting your achievement online or in-person to friends. Whilst it feels good at the time and can often be good to share your wins, doing this makes it a bigger deal than it needs to be (in my experience) and takes away from the point of you trying to do something new in the first place.
The goal of a new habit is to normalise it as much as possible. Putting too much of a spotlight on it reminds you that it’s not part of who you are but only something you want.
I find that keeping my new habits to myself, at least in the beginning, helps to keep it personal which is important because a habit is not something you boast about, it is something you just do because it’s part of who you’re trying to become.
By rewarding yourself, you make your habit something to celebrate if it’s something out of the ordinary. Rather, you need to keep your head down and repeat, repeat, repeat until it’s a normal part of your day. It can be useful to get others to hold you accountable along the way but I think in the beginning it should be a personal commitment to yourself and nothing more.
As above, the habit itself should be rewarding. For example, the workout you do makes you feel healthy and good. The journaling makes you feel grateful or the healthy dinner leaves you feeling energised.
4. Stack your habits
One of the best habit hacks you can deploy is habit stacking. By stacking your habits you can get more done in the same amount of time. By attaching a new habit to an existing habit that’s already working, you make it easier to stay on track. For example, if you’re aiming to drink more water each day, why not bring a couple of bottles to the gym? You’re likely to drink at least one bottle of water when you exercise so by associating your new habit with your existing gym habit, you’ll be more likely to stick to drinking more.
You can realistically start between one and three habits at a time as your “macro habits” and then bolt on your “micro habits” to these once you’re comfortable enough.
5. Remind yourself why
One of the main reasons why new habits fail is due to starting out with a weak WHY. Starting a new habit isn’t always easy (it can be damn hard) and you can make it much more difficult than it needs to be if you’re not 100% clear with yourself as to why you’re even trying to do it. For example, you may think losing weight is a worthy habit to have but if you don’t have a strong WHY you’ll likely fail.
When I decided it was time to trim down a few months ago, I did so because I was fed up with constantly trying and failing. I also wanted to look as good as I could at my wedding. This gave me a strong WHY and a reason to keep going even when I didn’t feel like eating vegetables and plain meats.
In the past, I’d tried to lose weight because ‘I knew I’d look better,’ or, ‘because it would be nice to lose weight,’ Your WHY is your anchor to sticking to your habits so if it’s weak to begin with, you’re doomed to fail.
6. Commit to the long haul
Another overlooked habit hack is keeping in mind that you need to be in it for the long haul. I genuinely believe that worthy results don’t come easily, regardless of what you’re trying to achieve. It’s why short-term results will always fall apart whilst long-term results will stick around. If you want to be a race-winning marathon runner, you have to put in the hours to train. Likewise, if you’re trying to lose weight, you have to commit to eating a certain way for months on end.
If you do a two-week fad diet of soup eating, you’ll lose weight but it will not be sustainable and you’ll no doubt gain all your weight back once you start eating the way you normally do.
If you want a new habit to last, make sure you’re committed to the long haul.
7. Be prepared
Another one of the most important habit hacks on this list is to be prepared. Whatever it is you’re trying to do, you need to make your life as easy as possible in order to stick to your new habit. This means getting your environment in check. Setting your environment up to fit your new habit is essential and often overlooked.
Your environment dictates your success. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, you need to have the right foods in your fridge and freezer. If you don’t you run the risk of calling in take out food and slipping back into old habits. Slipping back into old habits is so easy to do because we’re all programmed to drift towards what we know and what is comfortable.
8. List your excuses
One of the best habit hacks you can deploy, especially before you begin tying a new habit is to list your possible excuses as to why you might not be able to follow through with it on a consistent basis.
By doing this, you can easily see if your excuses are actually genuine or not. Because we all tend to cling on to comfort, it’s easy to make excuses as to why we don’t do certain things on a consistent basis but usually, that’s all they are, comforting excuses.
For example, you may say; “I don’t have time to go to the gym,” when in reality you may have several hours in the evening that you spend watching TV or at the bar. Listing your excuses and being honest with yourself lets you see where you can realistically perform your habit in your day.
9. Be your own parent
To truly make a habit last you have to become your own parent. By this, I mean you have to become the person that believes in you and you also have to be strict with yourself and show yourself compassion if you fail along the way. You won’t always have encouragement along the way or when you need it and that’s why you need to step up and push yourself forward as the person looking out for your best interests.
I don’t think willpower is very useful personally but I do believe that we can all make good decisions for ourselves if we’re willing to be 100% honest with ourselves. Having a strong WHY is often better than relying on willpower.
10. Become your habit
The eventual goal of starting any new habt is to become your habit. This means once you’ve performed your habit for long enough your habit stops being a habit and becomes a part of who you are. You eventually start to do your habit without even thinking about it.
When you start doing a new habit, it can almost feel like an inconvenience or a chore. The goal is to do it through consistent repetition until it doesn’t feel like a big deal anymore but the only way to get to that point is by showing up and doing it over and over again.