Your life is essentially a sum total of your habits.
Habits determine your physical health, your mental wellbeing, and your personal growth. Essentially, all behavior modification boils down to a change in your habits.
But, how do you transform your bad habits into good ones? Or how do you install new habits into your jam-packed day?
There are already a ton of blogs and books out there on this topic repeating the same washed-up advice. Most of this information isn’t easy to digest or implement.
I have learned through trial-and-error of every possible habit-building method and found 3 simple steps that actually work to make a habit and make them stick..
1. Don’t Go Big, Go Long
The biggest mistake most people make when making new habits is they rely on motivation alone and go too big on the first few days. Let’s say someone is motivated to get in shape and thus decides to do an hour of a workout every single day.
They do great the first week, but by the second week, they are exhausted and their motivation has been drained. “Life” gets in the way and they go back to not exercising at all.
The same story repeats with any good habit you’re trying to build if you go too big right at the beginning. I’ll tell you straight: Motivation is fickle. It won’t last long enough for you to stick to the habit.
Taking action: Go small if you want to play the long game. Instead of working out for an hour every day, work out for 20 minutes. Or work out for an hour only 2 days a week. The point is to make it ridiculously simple to show up for implementing the good habit.
After you’ve built momentum, increase the pace very slowly. After two weeks of sticking to the habit, you work out 40 minutes everyday or workout for an hour 4 days a week. Continue building momentum for this addition and then increase it again.
This is how I now wake up 2 hours earlier than I used to 3 months ago. I continued getting up just 15 minutes early every week and then increased the pace as I built momentum.
2. You Will Fail, Plan For It
I’ll tell you a big secret: Even the self-development gurus have a slip in their habits. It is human to slip.
You get sick and so you discontinue exercising for two weeks. Work gets too much and so you haven’t read more than 10 pages in the last month. There’s an important event that disrupts your sleep schedule.
Life happens. You need to plan for it. The key is to get back on track as quickly as possible. Don’t let the slump get to you.
Taking action: Don’t try to be perfect. Plan for emergencies. Give thought to what might get in your way of implementing the habit and eliminate distractions. Plan on how you can move past the hurdles and stick to the habit. Maybe it means reducing the frequency of the habit or diminishing the intensity of the habit.
When I have a huge to-do list, I still exercise. But only for 10 minutes. When I am too tired, I’ll read only 1 page instead of 30. Instead of getting up later, I will make time to nap in the afternoon.
There’s also a two-day rule you can use for this problem: You are just not allowed to miss implementing your habit two days in a row. This means you can just go to the gym on alternate days, but you aren’t allowed to not go two days consecutively. This ensures you minimize your chance of getting in a slump at all.
3. Use Existing Habits To Your Advantage
It’s a common complaint to not have the time to implement new habits. We want to read more, but who has the time? We want to go to the gym, but who has the time?
You don’t need more time. We just need to use the time we already have wisely. You might not notice, but you already have existing good & bad habits. You just need to use them to your advantage.
Use your habits to complement creating another one. It will create a domino effect sooner than you think. For bad habits, simply replace them with a good habit until you are conditioned.
Taking action: If you already have a habit, say brushing your teeth every night, complement it with reading a good book’s few pages (remember #1: go small for the long game).
And if you already have a bad habit, say scrolling on social media, replace it with reading or any other good habit. Whenever you’re tempted to scroll, pick up a book instead. After a few conscious efforts, it will come automatically to you.
This process has helped me get more reading done and spend less time on social media with, honestly, minimal effort. Two birds with one stone.
Habits are something that can make or break your life. Good habits can hone an easy way to self-improvement while bad habits can downgrade the quality of your life.
Fortunately, building habits is simple. It is just not easy. You need to stay consistent and find smart strategies that make you last in the game.
I hope this article helped you in finding ways to build a lasting good habit. What habit are you currently trying to build? Tell me in the comments below!
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