My special skill is starting something and then never finishing it. I’m a big idea person — I’ll get an idea for a new project or a new goal, and when it comes time to carry it out, I’m like nah. The same goes for new habits — one day I’ll think to myself, hey, we should start doing a new habitual thing! And maybe I’ll do it for a day or two, or a week, and then I just…stop.
I don’t know why I’m like this, but that’s what we’re working with. So I’ve had to come up with several self-hacks to actually start doing the things that I want to do habitually. And let me tell you — trying to beat yourself at your own game is no easy feat, but if I can do it, so can you!
Tip #1: Slow and Steady
I’ve seriously had to teach myself to approach new habits in small increments. For example, say I want to start a habit of doing 30 minutes of yoga every day. Well, when the day rolls around that I just don’t want to do yoga, I call it quits. I have this mentality of, “I screwed up once so clearly I’m doing a terrible job at this,” and then I just give up.
Then I discovered that I could actually go easier on myself (yeah, shocker) and that even seemingly small victories were still victories. That means that 10 minutes of yoga is still a victory and still something I can be proud of. 30 minutes of yoga once a week is still something I can be proud of. No victories are small victories, and those baby steps will slowly but surely help build that habit in you!
Tip #2: Bribe Yourself
Ok, I’ll be the first to admit — this one is hard and takes a lot of self-control (a virtue I’m trying to cultivate on the daily). But if you need something to help you kickstart a new healthy habit, try bribing yourself with something you really enjoy. That may mean letting yourself order food (the bribe) after a week of cooking for yourself (the habit). You’ll probably notice that soon enough you don’t need to use your bribe anymore — the habit will just become a habit!
Tip #3: Set Reminders!
My “Reminders” iPhone app is probably the most used utility on my phone. I set reminders and timers for literally everything — I’m so scatterbrained that I’ll even forget about the cookies I just put in the oven! Because one of my biggest obstacles to building healthy habits is just my forgetfulness, I’m always writing things down and putting reminders in my phone. If you don’t want to use reminders, try doing your new habit at a certain time every day or after you do a certain activity every day — that time/activity will help trigger a reminder for you.
Tip #4: Keep Your Habits In Sight (Literally)
You know the saying — “Out of sight, out of mind.” Well, the opposite is also true — in sight, in mind! This is actually a really small step that can make a huge difference in your habit development. Want to start snacking healthier? Put the chips in the cupboard and store some apples on the counter instead. Want to start doing yoga? Lay your yoga mat out somewhere where you’ll see it throughout your day. Want to swap tv time for some quiet reading? Put a book or two prominently on a side table or coffee table. Small, visual changes in your environment will go a long way to helping you build that healthy habit.
Tip #5: Consider Your Why
Last but not least, figuring out my “why” was a game-changer for me. If my motivations aren’t in the right place, I’m less likely to actually be committed to building the habit. Here’s what to look for when considering your motivation:
– Can this motivate me regularly?
– Will this motivation create a better “me”?
– Am I doing this for myself or for others?
– Will this motivation fade? If so, when? How will that affect my habit?
For example, I used to want to work out so that I’d look good. That desire to look good was my motivation. Let’s run it through those four filters:
– I won’t be motivated regularly by my desire to look good, because my self-image changes daily.
– That motivation won’t create a better “me” — it will actually probably make me more self-conscious.
– If I’m being honest, my motivation was to “look good” in others’ eyes, not my own.
– The motivation will only fade if I either become more confident in my appearance or if I finally hit my “goal” weight, at which point I know I’d stop working out immediately.
See? That’s immediate evidence of an unstable why, and it indicates that I probably won’t keep up the habit for very long. If, however, my motivation was to become stronger and healthier, the habit has much more sticking power — I can always strive to become healthier and stronger, I’d be doing that purely for myself, it would lead to a better “me” and it’s a motivation that isn’t likely to fade anytime soon!
I hope these tips help you on your journey to building more healthy habits! Do you have any tips I missed? Let us know in the comments!
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