Now that we know willpower is not enough to form new habits, I want to talk about two more strategies that can help you to form and continue to strengthen new habits.
Yes, rewards! No, they are not just for children. Rewards can be a very healthy and strategic way to help you to form a new habit. Research tells is that immediate rewards are excellent for helping to reinforce a new habit. In other words, when you engage in a new behavior and you want it to become a habit, rewarding yourself immediately after engaging in the behavior will help your brain to learn that this is a good thing to do and that you should keep doing it.
For example, if you want to create a habit of drinking more water and you plan to reward yourself at the end of the month for meeting your water goals, the likelihood of you meeting this goal is low. This is because you are forcing yourself to wait an entire month to experience the rewards of all your hard work. Instead, I would recommend that you reward yourself more frequently. Ideally, the reward should be small, frequent, yet enticing enough to keep you motivated and encouraged about your new habit.
One trick that works extremely well is “temptation bundling”. What this means is forming a new habit by bundling the behavior you want to become a habit with something you already really enjoy. The trick? You are only allowed to engage in the thing you really enjoy when you are actively engaged in the behavior you are working to make habit.
Another example: If you want to develop a new habit of exercising and you know that you love listening to a particular podcast, that means that when you exercise, you will be able to treat yourself by listening to your favorite podcast. However, you are only allowed to listen to the podcast while exercise.
Temptation bundling takes a bit of self-discipline, however it is extremely effective and will definitely help you to form and strengthen that new habit.
Are you feeling ready to form better habits and work toward your personal development goals?
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Dr. Amber Thornton
Clinical Psychologist | Personal Development Consultant | Cultural Diversity Consultant
© Dr. Amber Thornton Consulting, LLC 2019
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