Whether you want to improve your lifestyle or learn something new, forming habits can be a powerful way to make a lasting change. This is particularly useful for learning a language such as English, which requires regular practice over a long period of time. There has been a lot written about how we form habits and there are many things that experts still don’t completely understand. There are, however, some simple tips that are generally agreed to help you form habits and reach your goals.
Use an old habit to trigger the new one
Use a habit that you already have to help you remember your new habit. For example, if you have a cup of coffee every morning and you want to improve your English vocabulary, try reading a news article in English while you drink your coffee. Soon, the reading will become part of your habit and you won’t need to make an effort to remember to do it every day.
Take baby steps
It’s tempting to think that you can make a complete change to your lifestyle in one go. In reality, it’s much more effective to do it in small stages. So, if you have a goal that requires you to practise English every day, start small with one exercise per study session. Once that habit is fully-formed, you can build up the amount of material you cover and time you spend studying.
Create one habit at a time
Until a habit is something you do without thinking, don’t start a new one. The whole power of a habit is that it’s something you don’t need to think about – it’s an automatic part of your life. If you try and form more than one habit at once, you are less likely to form either. If you have several habits that you want to become a part of your life, plan to start each one another is fully-formed.
Do it every day
Habits rely on your brain forming new neural pathways and it can only do this if you do something regularly. Do your new habit every day, preferably at the same time and use something as a trigger to help you remember when to do it.
Give it time
As mentioned in the previous point, it takes your brain time to form the connections that will make a habit a part of your life. Experts disagree on exactly how long and it’s likely that it will vary depending on the type of habit you are learning. It’s usually suggested that the average time for a habit to form is about month. A month is also a convenient time to commit to doing something for, so it’s probably a good bet for you. Commit to doing your new habit for a month then review your progress and goals at the end of the month. The habit should have stuck by then so you can start to do more.
One of the most important things about making a habit part of your life is letting other people know about it. So, do you want to form a new English practice habit? If so, tell your friends about it and let them help you form a new positive habit of practising English.