Building good habits can be challenging, especially when it comes to maintaining them for the long term.
Fortunately, there are several strategies that can help you establish positive habits and break negative ones.
Here are three actionable steps you can take right now to build good habits:
1. Begin with a habit so easy that you can't say no.
Consistency is key when developing a new habit. It's not about how well you perform on any given day; it's the sustained effort that matters. Therefore, when starting a new habit, make it so easy that you can't refuse it. In fact, aim for a level of simplicity that might even seem laughable.
For example, if you want to establish an exercise habit, set a goal to exercise for just one minute today. If you aim to start a writing habit, commit to writing only three sentences. Similarly, if you wish to cultivate healthy eating habits, start by incorporating one nutritious meal into your week.
Remember, starting small is perfectly fine because you'll have plenty of opportunities to increase the intensity later on. Don't feel pressured to join a gym, write an entire book, or completely overhaul your diet right from the start. Instead, focus on proving to yourself that you can stick to something small for 30 days. Once you've established consistency, you can gradually increase the difficulty.
In the initial stages, the level of performance is irrelevant. Performing an impressive feat once or twice won't matter if you can't sustain it in the long run. So, make your new habit so easy that you can't say no.
2. Take time to identify what is holding you back.
Imagine you are someone who desperately wants to be fit but believes ‘you aren’t the type of person who enjoys working out’. Upon closer inspection, you discover that it isn’t the exercise itself that bothers you, but rather the inconvenience of preparing for the gym, traveling there, and exercising in a public setting.
Think really hard about WHAT is actually stopping you from doing something. Is it the thing itself or an issue of time or inconvenience. To make this habit easier, you could start by exercising at home twice a week or going for a quick jog after work.
Those who successfully maintain good habits have a deep understanding of the factors hindering their progress.
You may think you're simply "not the type of person who enjoys working out" or "unorganized" or "prone to succumbing to cravings and indulging in sweets."
However, in most cases, you're not destined to fail in these areas.
Instead of making sweeping statements about your habits, break them down into smaller components and identify the specific aspects preventing consistency.
Once you pinpoint the precise hurdles that hinder your progress, you can start developing strategies to overcome them.
3. Have a plan for when you stumble.
It is highly unrealistic to achieve flawless success right from the beginning.
How can you expect yourself to be perfect, when even top level athletes regularly make mistakes.
It's crucial to refrain from judging yourself or feeling guilty when you slip up and instead focus on devising a plan to get back on track as soon as possible.
Making mistakes or falling off track doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you normal. What separates you from achieving your goals, is how well you can pick yourself back up.
Have a vision of the direction your heading in, rather than definite goals with deadlines.
Missing a habit once is fine but don’t let yourself miss it multiple times in a row.
Forget about how perfect you are doing something and focus on making it part of your identity by being consistent