Struggling to Create Good Habits? Here’s How to Do It Right
Creating good habits is a worthwhile goal that could transform your life for the better. Whether you want to be more productive or get a handle on your health, habit building is a viable strategy to get there. If you're struggling to reach those ambitious goals you've set for yourself, here's how to do it right.
To form a lasting commitment to your habits, they need to be specific. Simply saying, "I will make mindfulness a habit every day," is not clear or measurable enough to convert into a lasting habit. Instead, make your habit, "I will meditate every morning for 10-minutes, at least five days a week." The more specific you are, the easier it is to connect your habits to your daily life.
Piggyback Onto Existing Habits
One of the most innovative ways to create new habits is by piggybacking them onto existing ones. If you want to go jogging every morning, put your workout clothes next to your alarm or toothbrush and put them on.
You can also put your multi-vitamins or journal next to your phone, so it's the first thing you do after checking your email or social media every morning.
Developing solid habits is ambitious, but it doesn't mean you have to start with a bang. Start by developing small habits that give you the confidence and motivation to push forward.
For example, if you're having trouble tracking your eating habits or meal plans, start by charting out breakfast. Once you've mastered the habit of tracking what you eat for breakfast and making improvements, add lunch to your daily tracking goals.
Make a Public Commitment
Swearing you'll focus on your new habits is easy when you're feeling strong and confident. Sometimes we need to make a public commitment to stick to our habits. You're more likely to stick to your obligations when you have the acknowledgment and support of those around you. Let others know what habits you're working on, why, and that you need some encouragement from time to time to stay on track.
Write it Down
Writing down your goals in vivid detail is strongly associated with success. Turn the habits you're trying to build into goals that are realistic enough to reach with the help of a daily planner.
Whether you want to start working out every day or land a new job, write down your goal, break it down into steps, and turn the process into a daily habit.
Redefine the Concept of Failure
Studies show that 8% of Americans who make New Year's resolutions keep them all year, and 80% give up by February. Self-discipline is a primary culprit, but there's more to the story of failure than lack of determination.
Getting off track for a few days with our new habit isn't a reason to give up. Instead of viewing getting derailed as a failure, look at it as a unique opportunity. Reassess your obstacles, identify ways to make your habit easier by breaking into smaller steps, and factor in the idea of stumbling as part of your journey. Failure only occurs when you permanently end your habit building, not the bumps in the road.
Develop a Backup Plan
One way to get back on track after stumbling is by developing a backup plan to habit building. If you can't find the time to work towards that new job or promotion, focus on a different step instead.
Make your habit about refining your skillset one hour a week to prep for that new position a few months down the road. Or your daily practice could be researching the best companies you want to work for and figuring out which is best suited for your goals.
Identify Your Obstacles
Failing at your habits usually has little to do with motivation. Instead, obstacles to creating new habits include starting too big and feeling intimidated or lacking planning and preparation.
Take the time to identify your obstacles and develop a system to overcome them. If you lack planning, use your daily planner or Academic Planner to break down the steps and time necessary to establish the goals you're working towards.
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