Hands up if you’ve ever begun a new habit, just to drop it a week, or two later.
You know you should be doing more to get fit, or give up the cigarettes, etc. but it’s just so hard!
Some habits are always going to be easier to stick to than others. If you’re struggling, whether you’re trying to stop a bad habit, or trying to start a better one, these 10 tips are for you.
1. Start Simple
Don’t go too big, too soon. Initial motivation can get you really pumped, but don’t try to completely change your life in one day. Start off slowly, gain momentum, then add to it.
Humans, as a rule, aren’t great with change. Our brains are wired for simplicity and structure. It’ll cope with lots of small changes much easier than one big one.
If you wanted to start running for an hour every day, first make the habit to go for 10 minutes and then, maybe add 5 minutes extra every week. Trying to schedule an hour every day is going to be tough. Anyone can schedule 10 minutes.
2. Get a Trigger
For a new routine to more easily become a habit, try to associate it with a habit, or task you already do every day. For example, if you want to start exercising every morning, put your exercise clothes out at night. Then, in the morning you get dressed straight into them and your ready to exercise.
3. Stay Consistent
The more consistent your are with your new habit the easier it will be to continue. Try, wherever possible to do the new task at the same time every day, or before/after the same event every day. This will build on the trigger tip above.
4. Remove Any Temptation
Temptation is the defeater of all great intentions. As I’ve said in another post, your mind loves to keep things simple and non-stressful. Give it an easy ‘out’ and it’ll take it without any hesitation. So, remove any distractions. For example, if you want to be a non-smoker, stay away from smokers!
It’s not only the residual smoke you get when you’re around smokers that causes the problems. Also, if you’re trying to stop a habit that the people around you are still attached to, in a lot of cases, they’ll subconsciously try to prevent you ‘leaving the club’.
You’ll often hear things like “It won’t hurt for one night”, or “Relax and enjoy yourself for one day! You can get back on it tomorrow”, etc. Restructure your environment, or your social contacts etc. for a while, so you won’t be tempted in the first few weeks.
5. Replace Your Lost Emotion
Your mind doesn’t like to give things up. If your new habit is for example, to stop smoking, make sure you’re replacing the emotion you’ll be losing. If smoking cigarettes gave you a way to relax, you could start meditating, or reading as a way to replace that relaxation.
6. Find a Habit Buddy
It’s going to be infinitely easier to keep to a new habit, if you’re doing it with someone else. Not only will you have someone on your side to motivate you, you’ll also have someone you’re accountable to.
7. Understand the Benefits AND the Pain
Everyone knows the benefits of a new healthy habit. but, few people stop to identify and understand the pain these new habits can cause.
It’s great saying that you’re going to start running every day, but remember that initially, you’re going to be fatigued. You’re most likely going to be in some pain until your body gets used to the added stresses, etc.
If you don’t take time to identify the downsides, once you start, your motivation will be blown very quickly.
8. Do it For Yourself
Don’t try to start a habit because someone else says you should. You should always start habits that give you gratification, or lead to one of your goals. You’ll never feel motivated to change anything if you don’t believe in it yourself.
9. Journal your Journey
This tip is very important. Journaling is a great way of recording how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished. There will definitely be times when your motivation drops and you begin to wonder why you started it in the first place.
A journal needn’t be a long description of all your feelings and problems you’ve faced, or difficulties you’ve overcome. Although it can be if you enjoy writing :-).
Just write a paragraph, or so, each day of how things went generally. Over the weeks, the journal will become an indispensable motivator when times get tough.
10. Celebrate the Process, not Just the Destination
Don’t just concentrate on the end goal when you’re starting a habit. If you only focus on congratulating yourself once you’ve achieved your final outcome, you’ll give up fairly quickly.
Congratulate yourself every time you complete the habit. Write the fact that you completed the task in your journal. Write how it made you feel. Let yourself feel good about the process, not just the final destination.
So, there’s my 10 tips to help you, when starting a new habit. Once I’d finished writing the list, it hit me that there was one more thing that would really help. So, I thought I’d add a bonus tip….
11. Get a Habit Tracker on Your Mobile
It doesn’t matter whether you use an Android, or an iPhone, there are plenty of options available for you to try. Personally, I use an Android mobile phone and my favourite Habit Tracker app is ‘Loop‘.
If you’ve got any tips you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them 🙂