You’ve figured out what kind of changes you want in your life, but struggle with sustainably creating them? Reflecting on these questions will help you form habits!
To change your life might often seem easy to the mind, but in reality it can be really hard to make lasting improvements.
Asking yourself the right questions will be incredibly helpful on your path of self-development.
I suggest to sit down with a cold coconut or a hot tea – probably depending on where you are – and take your time to reflect on the answers so you can get motivated to make huge improvements to your quality of life.
- What exactly do I want to do?
Be clear about what behaviour you exactly want to establish.
Statements like “I want to exercise more” are a good idea, but unfortunately too vague for the mind.
Stating clearly that you want to do 5 push ups, 5 burpees and 5 crunches every day will help you form a new habit easier.
- Who am I doing this for?
Do things you want to do for yourself, because other forms of motivation might make it hard for you to stay on track.
Some random influencer told you you should be working out more? Or your boyfriend would like you to be fitter?
Ditch them both.
Of course there are specific behaviours like going vegan for the animals or zero waste for Mother Earth, where you are trying to change for others than yourself.
Figure out who or what you are trying to change and maybe adjust to really get yourself motivated for the right reasons.
- Who else will benefit from my new habit?
Even though your journey of personal growth is mainly for you, you won’t be the only one affected. Your environment will also profit massively from you living your happiest and best life.
- What value does this behaviour create for my life?
Referring back to the example of exercising more, health and self-care might be of huge value to you or you might want those values to be a big player in your life.
Think about what values you want to focus on in your life and then act upon them.
- Does this have a major meaning in my life?
Is it really important to you or do you just feel like it should be of importance?
If it doesn’t have a major meaning in your life you might want to use your time and energy for something you value even more.
- What will change if I do this daily?
Envisioning the long-term effects of our efforts is a huge motivation to be consistent in behaviour change as big changes usually don’t happen overnight.
What will happen to your body / mindset / health if you’d start moving your body a little more every day?
- Is there a small action I can take right now?
One of the easiest questions that will help you form habits!
Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking about how you should ever run a marathon. Put on those running shoes and start with running for five minutes.
If the thought of five minutes running exhausts you start with one. If the resistance is still too big maybe you just wanna do a jumping jack. Just do one small step towards your big goal.
- What is holding me back?
Do you believe you have what it takes to reach your goal?
Or do you even believe you can change?
And most importantly do you actually think it’s worth the effort?
Be totally honest with yourself and figure out what exactly it is that is holding you back.
Then look at your list and rethink if these reasons are good enough to stay in your comfort zone.
- What am I afraid of?
Are you afraid of failing?
Or are you scared that your loved ones are not approving of you changing yourself in a certain direction?
Maybe the thought of you never reaching your goals is giving you anxiety?
Well unfortunately (?) becoming fearless is biologically pretty impossible
But finding the courage to face your fears and pushing through comes with great rewards.
After all you’ll come to the realization that it wasn’t as bad as you assumed in the first place. Additionally conquering your dreads will give you a huge boost in confidence & self-esteem plus it will be easier for you to move through the discomfort the next time.
- What challenges might occur whilst forming this new habit?
You know yourself better than anyone else does.
What kind of challenges / distractions / roadblocks might possibly appear on your journey?
Reflect on your past behaviour and try to figure them out in advance so you can make a plan how to cope with them.
Being prepared will narrow down the chances of you throwing in the towel to a minimum.
- How can I keep myself accountable?
Holding yourself accountable for your actions should play an important role in any part of your life.
Maybe you would like to commit to a regular blog or social media post about your new behaviour or want to get the help of loved ones?
If these options don’t really seem attractive you’d maybe prefer to connect with strangers on the internet trying to pursure the same dream?
Eventually you might also just deny yourself specific treats if you haven’t done it, like e.g. only eating your favourite junk food after three days of eating healthy.
I know these options most likely don’t sound like a lot of fun, but trust me that holding yourself accountable and being disciplined will not only strengthen your sense of self but it will also help you forming these good habits.
- How will I celebrate my successes?
Celebrating your successes needs to be a key ingredient in your habit recipe.
If you don’t reward yourself for your progress and successes your brain is not as likely to make a habit out of your new routine.
Treating yourself when you’ve reached your goal with something you’ve wanted for a long time can be a big motivation to continue.
- How will I cope with failures and setbacks?
I’m sorry to tell you that at some point we all fail and that this is totally normal and okay.
I’m not saying that you are 100% likely to fail at every new habit you are trying to build at first, but if you do come across failures and setbacks please don’t be too disappointed or even angry at yourself.
The difference you can make is in not giving up and just starting again.
Personal growth is usually not linear and every accomplishment you make should be celebrated.
Remember: failing doesn’t make you a failure!
For me it’s totally normal to fail when trying to change my lifestyle, I just keep going and learn from the ‘mistakes’.
- Is my goal realistic?
Having unrealistic expectations makes it easy for disappointment and failures to come along the way.
You want to build 5 kg of muscle in 5 weeks?
Let me tell you that this is pretty unlikely and it is furthermore not so smart to set yourself unrealistic goals that are almost impossible to reach.
Don’t set your goal too high at the beginning when you are just starting out.
Of course having big long time goals is a great thing, but don’t try to do too much too quickly.
- Can I create small successes on the way?
Celebrating small successes on the way to your major goal is important to keep yourself motivated and going.
It is up to you how big or small your celebrations will look like but maybe instead of treating yourself just for the goodness of self-indulgence you might want to create a treat for your small successes along the way.
Make sure that these celebrations actually support your long-term goals and don’t stand in conflict with them!
- Do I have a plan?
Even thought you might wonder how this question will help you form habits:
Trust me, you need a plan!
If you don’t have one you’ll have trouble getting that focus on, keeping track of your progress or knowing what to do next.
Having a plan will take away all the big question marks around your new habit and get you into that laser-focus mode straight away.
You can either hire an expert to create a customized plan for your needs or you create one yourself with the help of books and the internet.
- What is the long-term benefit of this new behaviour?
Always remember your long-term goals and the benefits that come with them! Without your vision consistency will be hard to keep.
You want to look like Mackenzie Davis in a Terminator movie but have not seen a gym from the inside?
Well let me tell you that you won’t be able to look like her within a month or even three.
Depending on your physique this can take one or even five years.
Yeah I know, that’s a long time and when you’re first starting out and feel every muscle aching you’re not sure if you’re willing to keep going for this long.
But what if you would pull through?
What would the benefits be?
Your health will increase, you will strengthen your mind whilst also improving your fitness.
You will probably sleep better, improve your mental health and for sure become disciplined, focused and an inspiration to others.
Remember why you started!
- How do I feel when I have done the new behaviour?
If you’re trying out something completely new envision how you will feel whilst and after you have done it.
Paint the whole picture and feel the sensation in your whole body.
Whenever you have done your new behaviour, sit down for a moment and note down exactly how you feel.
Sit with the joy / bliss / pride / whatever you are experiencing.
Remember how good you felt whenever you try to resist this new habit.
- And how do I feel when I haven’t done it?
As important as it is to focus on the good feelings, it might also help you to focus on the negative feelings you experience when you don’t do what you planned to do.
How do you and your body feel after skipping another workout?
How’s your mental health after skipping meditation and breathwork again?
Sit with the pain, feel it all through and remember this the next time you think about cheating.
- Can I combine the new behaviour to an existing habit of mine?
The technique I’m referring to is also known as habit bunching or habit stacking.
The concept about it is pretty simple: if you want to establish a new habit combine it with an already existing one.
If you for example would like to get into the habit of reading more and you are a passionate coffee drinker, you could use habit bunching by drinking your coffee only as long as you read a couple of pages.
As a reminder you could put your book right next to your coffee machine.
- How can I make sure to remember the new behaviour?
Setting an intention about your new habit every morning will help you to remember what you would like to focus on on that given day.
Additionally you can create visual or audible reminders in the form of post-it notes, alarm clocks or photos on a vision board.
You don’t have to try out all of these strategies at once but I deeply recommend giving all of them a chance.
Visual reminders will sooner or later blend into your environment and you will not notice them as much as when you first set them up.
Audible reminders will probably surprise you every time.
- How will I keep track of my progress?
Keeping track of your progress is crucial for you to see your progress, small successes and to keep yourself motivated.
You can use an app, a journal or even a white board to track your habits. I personally prefer using a journal to keep track of everything as I enjoy spending less time in front of screens.
- Who or what motivates me to form this new habit?
Maybe you are inspired by an athlete, an influencer, an entrepreneur or even your best friend.
Or eventually you’re not inspired by a specific person but still do have a certain goal that you would like to achieve.
It’s up to you if you would like to pin a photo of “The Rock” or just a random ripped body you found on Pinterest. Maybe you are inspired by Elon Musk or you just want to print out a juicy paycheck?
It’s totally up to you what motivates you and what you want to see as your screensaver or on your wall at home.
You could also bookmark that one YouTube video that inspires you so much or listen to that pumping beat every morning.
Whatever keeps you going and gives you a great feeling: use it!
Possibly you might also be motivated by visual cues of what you don’t want. You would like to exercise more? Maybe you are more inspired by a photo of how you don’t want to look like.
Our brains work differently so it’s important to play around and figure out what works best for you.
- Who can support me on my journey?
Tell a loved one about your new behaviour and ask them if they’d like to support you. Maybe they can also offer you guidance or would love to establish this new habit as well.
Having someone who can hold you accountable and motivate you is a great way for forming habits!
- When will I make time for this new behaviour?
No need to figure out the exact time, but considering if you e.g. want to implement the new behaviour in your evening or morning routine or in between work breaks will help you execute i
You could for example schedule your 5 pushups, 5 crunches and 5 burpees in between business calls or whilst your morning coffee is brewing.
- Can I reduce the time limit to a minimum?
The less time you will need to make for your new habit the likelier it is for you to establish it.
Start small and increase the time gradually. If you want to work out every day for half an hour, start with 5 minutes. This way you’ll have less resistance about actually doing it.
- What blockages do I have around the behaviour and how can I remove or change them?
Fear of failure or embarrassment are real and valid feelings.
But fear should never ever be a reason not to go for your goals and dreams!
Trial and error is filled with so many lessons and committing yourself to the path of self-development is a huge step that is respectable no matter the outcome.
Find out what other blockages you might have around the new behaviour, it could also be linked to self-worth and self-love.
If you figure out what is holding you back it is easier to work with it than just leaving it in the unknown spheres of your subconcious.
- How can I make it easiest for me to commit?
As forming habits is not as smooth as we wish it to be it’s recommendable to make it yourself as easy as possible.
Make it hard for you to say no!
Put out your workout clothes the night before & sign up to a gym that is expensive so it’ll hurt when you’re not going.
Get a workout buddy or maybe even pay for a personal trainer. Stop buying junk food so at least you can’t eat them at home.
There are so many different things you can do to create the least resistance of not doing it.
- Am I willing to commit to this for a month?
I get it, life happens and sometimes right now is not the right moment. But when do you think the right moment will come around?
You will always be able to find and make up excuses, but if it is really important to you you have to make your new behaviour a priority.
If you are not willing to commit to trying it out for a month then it is probably not important enough to you and you can look for something else to focus on.
- Is avoiding the new behaviour more painful than doing it?
Sometimes we fear change much more than staying in the same place as we currently are.
The comfort zone is a fluffy, sneaky and dangerous place to stay.
Our brains might try to convince us that the situation we’re currently in isn’t as bad as it actually is.
Staying in victim mentality and bathing in your own misery is probably easier than bringing up blood, sweat and tears to turn your life around.
But the comfort zone isn’t really a place where character is built nor greatness is achieved.
If you’ve figured out that staying where you are is more painful than taking on the path of personal growth you are in the right place.
- What has helped me so far to form new habits?
At this very moment you might not realize how many new habits you have already successfully formed in your life.
Looking back and thinking about how you used to be and used to spend your time will probably make you realize that you actually already have changed quite a lot.
Try to remember what techniques and tricks helped you back then to create new habits, it doesn’t matter if they still are a current habit of yours.
- How can I create an attitude of gratitude for this habit?
Shifting your mindset is always a big helper, especially when it comes to self-development.
Instead of being annoyed by uncomfortable changes you wish to make, I’d like to suggest to you to practice more gratitude.
Try to genuinely feel grateful for actually having the mental, emotional and physical capacity to consider taking on the path of personal grwoth.
Self-development should always be seen and pursued as a gift and not as a way of punishing yourself.
- Do I love myself?
Bet you didn’t expect this being part of questions that will help you form habits, right?!
Well asking yourself if you love yourself is a crucial question when trying to change your life.
Self-love is not an easy practice, it takes a lot of time time and… practice.
The willingness to work on yourself to become your best version is linked to you loving yourself and only wanting the best for yourself and your life.
Regardless of your answer to this question I hope you will always be self-compassionate, kind and loving towards yourself.
Remember the words of Buddha:
you can always begin again