I would be the first person to raise my hand if someone asked, “Do you want to build new habits?” It’s a great idea but when put into motion, you may find yourself having a hard time reaching that goal.
Many of us already have our own routines down. You wake up, eat, work, sleep, repeat. Sometimes that just isn’t enough and you find yourself wanting to add something else in to spice up your life a bit. Maybe you want to start exercising after work or you want to tackle all of your emails within the first hour of the day. Starting a new habit takes diligence, focus, and willpower. In my case, kicking a nasty smoking habit took all three of those things and more because it really did come down to the fact that it was just a bad habit I was used to doing. So how can we make the good ones stick around? Unlimited Mastery takes us on a journey through the best ways to conquer new routines.
1. Use Your Environment to Your Advantage.
Being creatures of habit, it’s important to stay in an environment that you’re familiar with while you’re trying to make new habits stick. Maybe you’re using a specific pen and paper, or sitting at a specific spot in your house. Whatever it is, make it consistent. When you’re creating a new behavior, it’s much easier to make it work if you aren’t making drastic changes to your current routine. Do everything the same, just add in your new steps for your new pattern.
2. Link habits to events or to other habits
One way to make a new habit easier to follow would be to combine it with cues. Maybe it’s the thing you do right when you wake up or go to sleep. Or maybe it’s something in combination with a routine you already have.
We need to know exactly how we are going to fit the new habit into our life. If we choose vague cues such as “I’ll write in the morning” we are more likely to be inconsistent. It’s easy to fill out our mornings with many other tasks and soon realize that the morning is long gone and we didn’t work on our new habit.
3. Work on few habits at a time.
Don’t pile too much on your plate! It’s easy to overwhelm yourself which is a good way to cause a mental rebellion. We know how hard it is to kick the procrastination habit, so don’t take on too much and end up putting off creating new, better routines for future you to deal with. In all reality, it can take anywhere between 20 to 60 days to create new patterns for yourself, so you have to be patient and let your brain catch up!
4. First consistency then intensity.
It’s really easy to burn yourself out if you’re not careful, be it mentally, physically, or emotionally. Tackling too much from the start can end up in some severe exhaustion. The example provided in the article uses a really good comparison:
For many years I failed to build the habit of going to the gym consistently. I would always start with a lot of energy and work out everyday for almost an hour. But after a few weeks I would get overwhelmed and stop. Months later, I would try the same thing but ended up quitting again.
The way I finally got to build the habit was by trying a different approach. Consistency first, intensity second. The strategy works by starting from a small habit and then building more layers to it.