Creating Healthy Habits: The Power of Anchoring
We all have habits. Whether it’s putting your wedding ring on every morning or running a marathon every year, they shape our daily routines and personal identities. This can be a good thing (think: going to the gym every day or reading a book before bed)—or it can be a not-so-good thing (think: skipping breakfast or opening that bottle of wine every night).
When we put our lives on autopilot, it’s easy to fall into routines that aren’t serving us. By taking a closer look at your habits—the good and the bad—you can identify the patterns you want to break and the new ones you might want to form.
Reworking your behavior that causes you to rush, or overwork yourself, or skip out on living those moments in between, can clear space in your life for the things that matter most. But you have to do it the right way.
New Habits Aren’t Easy
Ever notice that when you set a goal like “I’m going to lose 100 pounds by summer,” you’re already back on the couch eating potato chips by day four? Going from Netflix and chill to washboard abs isn’t impossible, but it won’t happen overnight either.
If you’re used to heading home and cuddling with a bowl of ice cream after work, expecting yourself to head straight to the gym for two hours every night is not only unrealistic, but unfair. It sets you up for failure.
If you’re serious about your goal—whether it’s weight loss, reading more or being present in the moments that matter—you have to take the right approach. And it all starts with anchoring.
The Anchoring Technique
Research suggests that the best way to create new habits is by anchoring them to existing behavior. By adding a new behavior to the beginning or end of an existing routine, you’ll have a much better chance at following through.
So take a common daily habit—brushing your teeth. If you’re looking to start working out more, you might begin by doing ten jumping jacks right after brushing each morning. Once that feels ingrained in your routine, you might do ten jumping jacks followed by five push ups, and so on.
This doesn’t just work for fitness goals. Imagine you want to start a daily meditation practice. If you always wash your face before bed, you could start committing to two minutes of meditation right after washing up. Now your usual routine—washing your face every night—is simply extended by two minutes to include meditation.
While the change can seem tiny—turning off notifications during dinner—the small change can lead to a big impact: you aren’t being interrupted so you can spend time being present with your family and you won’t miss out on the small moments.
Stanford Professor BJ Fogg suggests in his book Tiny Habits to use this formula when anchoring: “after I ____ (current routine), I will ____(new behavior).”
By making small adjustments and connecting them to existing behaviors, you’ll slowly but surely transform your life.
Don’t Forget to Start Small
The key to transforming your habits is to start small and build from there. Don’t try to anchor big, giant goals to your daily habits too quickly.
For instance, “I’m going to brush my teeth, then run 10 miles every morning,” might be an anchored habit, but it’s still unrealistic. It puts undue pressure on you and your body by dramatically shifting your routine in ways you might not be ready for.
By sticking to small, incremental changes, you’ll set yourself up for success—allowing a natural progression toward bigger goals. We’re all about celebrating the small wins and finding gratitude in every part of the process.
Whether you’re anchoring new habits in old routines, or anchoring yourself in the moment, the idea of “anchoring” is core to living life in between.
At Air & Anchor, we’re all about small wins that enhance small moments. Clearing out the bad and making room for the good can give you more time, energy, and enjoyment out of life.
Today, we challenge you to anchor one small habit to the end of an existing routine. We can’t wait for you to see the impact it holds—and the domino effect to come.
I heard / read it take 15 times to engrain a habit into your routine