Learning to build good habits is not about how quickly you can master them. It’s about how good you are at maintaining them.
In a world where everything is just a click away, you’re used to things happening quickly. And, of course, your goals are no exception. You want that healthy lifestyle, speedy productivity, or an amazing relationship – and you want it right now. So when you start that 30-day fitness challenge yet find yourself struggling to get out of bed every morning and head to the gym, you become discouraged and frustrated. You might even give up.
9 ways to build good habits that stick
1. Start Slowly
Ease your way into new habits. Although it can be tempting to dive right into it, it’s recommended that you start slowly then build up.
Your goal, at this point, is to establish the habit behavior. You want to familiarize yourself with your new habit and start fitting it into your routine. Instead of doing 100 push-ups each day, begin with 10. Rather than overhauling your entire diet, simply add a vegetable to every meal. Smaller actions require less thought, which requires less effort. Once these actions become consistent, then they’ll start to feel more natural. Soon, they’ll become a regular part of your daily routine.
2. Don’t Rock the Boat
If you prefer visual cues, then this tip will be smooth sailing.
Using a physical calendar and a marker, create a visual reminder of your habit. Pin the calendar to your wall or place it on your desk; and whenever you complete your habit for the day, draw an “X” on that day in your calendar. Within a few days, you’ll have a steady flow. From there, your only job is to stay afloat and not rock the boat.
3. Be Clear
Implement your habits with absolute clarity. Vague statements, such as “I’ll try to write 500 words a day”, aren’t effective.
To increase your chances of following through with your new habits, you must clearly state where and when they’ll take place. Here are two helpful ways to achieve this:
- Linking: Link your new habit to an established activity. For example, “Before I go to bed, I will pack a healthy lunch.”
- Scheduling: Schedule your new habit. If you’re trying to improve your writing skills, for instance, schedule a “writing appointment”, where you’ll sit and write for a designated period of time.
4. Reward Yourself
Be proud of your achievements. Not only is celebrating your progress crucial for your motivation, it makes you feel good, too. Those empowering feelings of achievement and pride will inspire you to take more action and create even bigger successes.
However, rewards don’t have to be costly. It could be something small, like visiting a movie theatre, spending time with your significant other, or taking a relaxing bubble bath.
Make it a priority to feel good about yourself. Every step, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.
5. Eliminate Obstacles
Make the process easier for yourself. If one of your goals is to eat healthier, then keeping a cookie jar on your kitchen counter will only undermine your efforts. Instead, replace the cookie jar with a colourful bowl of fruit. This will help to, ultimately, change your environment and increase your chances of success.
When you eliminate the obstacles, you’re more likely to maintain your new habits.
6. Use Your Social Network
Good habits are behavioural traits, and the people around you can have a powerful impact on your behaviour. If you’re inspired to pursue your dreams and visions, but you’re surrounded by naysayers and pessimists, then it’s time to expand your social circle. Connect with others who also share your same drive and ambition to succeed.
7. Commit Yourself
Make a commitment to your new habits. For instance, hurrying home after a long and stressful day at work can be very enticing – rather than going to the gym, like you’d initially planned. But if you’d promised a friend that you’d meet up, then it makes it harder to decline.
By committing yourself to your new habits, it holds you accountable for your decisions, providing you with an extra push when things get difficult.
8. Think Long Term
The 21-day rule is just a myth. There is no specific amount of time required to build a habit. Short-term fixes, such as 7-day cleanses or 21-day challenges, are meant to produce fast results – but they’re not sustainable.
So how long does it take to form good habits? As long as it takes. The key is to create lasting change, and this can be done by having “short-term tasks” and “long-term targets”.
Your targets are the bigger goals and dreams that you want to accomplish, while your tasks are the daily activities that you complete in order to make your goals a reality. For instance, one of your targets could be publishing your first book, and the corresponding daily task would be contacting a new agent.
Tasks make your lofty targets appear within reach. It’s merely a matter of time – and consistency – before you achieve your goal.
9. Make It Personal
Above all, this is about you. In every moment, you need to believe that your new habits are part of your identity. Reinforce this notion with statements or affirmations, such as “I’m the kind of person who takes my mental wellbeing seriously. It’s important that I meditate for ten minutes every day.”
Repeat these statements on a daily basis and truly absorb them. Eventually, they will become a part of you.
Stick to Your Habits
If you’re finding it hard to maintain good habits, don’t be discouraged. By strategically shifting your mindset, you can begin to put yourself in the right direction – and make those habits stick. And, while you’re mastering your habits, Fabulous can help you! Our Build an Iron Self-Discipline Journey can help you learn how to motivate yourself and stick to your habits.