Keeping habits is as difficult as breaking them. Habits are simply repetitive actions. So what gives?
A smoker, who already has a chronic cough, cannot kick the habit of lighting that cigarette, even with the full knowledge of what smoking does to the body. Life is short; why not enjoy it even if it will be shorter?
A person, who leads a sedentary lifestyle, finally got the bright idea to exercise so he enrolls in a gym, buys the appropriate shoes and clothing, and is ready to go. First session, done – yes (but ouch)! Second session, done – ouch! Third scheduled session – cancelled, “My meeting took longer than I expected.” Fourth scheduled session – postponed, “I woke up late. Can’t do it this morning, but will do it this evening. Promise!”
That is how resolutions become broken promises. Here we are going to learn how to make a new habit stick. And when I say habit, I mean the habit that will improve your quality of life and overall well-being, and not the flash in the pan random idea.
- Make sure it is the best habit for you. A habit becomes easy to keep if you decide on the one that is best for you. Good is not good enough. It’s easy to discard a habit once another one comes along or it adds little or no value to your life. Let’s take it from Donald Trump who said, “As long as you are going to be thinking anyway, think big.” So make sure that the habit you choose is the best among any on the same category and will bring the most value to your life.
- Motivation is the key. You don’t decide on a habit simply because you woke up one morning and you thought of doing it. There is always a reason for doing things. Find your ultimate and meaningful reason because this will remind you during those tough times when you want to quit of why you have decided on a habit in the first place. Your motivation will keep you focused and stop you from quitting. So what drives you to that habit?
- Make a 30-day plan. You don’t go into a battle without a good strategy. It also takes 30 days to form a habit so make sure that you do it daily by pencilling in your schedule the habit you would like to form. Writing down your habit-to-be makes it more realistic and gives you a visible goal. Be like Sir Richard Bronson who has a good war strategy: “I have always lived my life by making lists: Lists of people to call, list of ideas, lists of companies to set up, lists of people who can make things happen. Each day I work through these lists, and it is that sequence of calls that propels me forward.”
- Never miss a day (or two). If you really want your habit to stick, the maximum number of days that you can only miss would be two. If you go beyond this, it will be more difficult to catch up. Never make excuses for yourself unless someone you care about is in the hospital or the house is on fire.
- Make sure your habits don’t clash. So you decided to wake up at 5:30 every morning to have more time for yourself before the rest of the world barge in, but you always watch late night shows as a way to relax after a hard day’s work. It will be easier to stay on course if nothing in your life is stopping you from the habit you would like to stick. Pick a habit that will complement your current good habits and this will ensure your success. As motivational speaker and author Brian Tracy said, “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.”
- Take it one habit at a time. It’s a noble idea to inject good habits in your life. But for the purpose of sticking to them, introduce one habit at a time. This will allow you to focus on working on the habit. Having a lot on your plate all at the same time is a guaranteed temptation to drop one of them, if not all. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
- Have a habit buddy. This will help you become accountable for sticking to your habit. Your habit buddy serves as your progress tracker and encouragement. This can be an actual human friend or maybe an application. The Nike+Running App is a great example of a habit buddy, if you would like to have running as a habit. What’s cool about this application is when you post on Facebook the start of your run, you will hear cheers when a Facebook friend likes or comments on your post.
Final Words: Start now!!