Building Lasting Habits
Lately all of the wonderful habits I promised myself I would start, or at least start doing better, have not happened. Not even one. This can be so frustrating especially when you feel your progress regressing. Why is creating a new positive routine in your life or habit feel almost impossible? Our list of reasons for not starting, not trying, and not developing the habits we would like to can all be traced back to our focus. Are we focused on the pleasure of our new habit or on the pain of breaking an old habit? Here are five ways that you can revitalize your focus and tackle your desired change.
1. Focus on the Good
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new,” Socrates said. How many times have we started a new habit with only the thought of the old habit in our minds (don’t eat sugar, don’t be lazy, don’t do this)? It is so easy to see what we are doing wrong and punish ourselves for falling into old routines. However, if we can turn our focus to the idea of “more” in our lives than some new habits will be easier to form. Instead of cutting all sweets, try to add more veggies and water. Instead of telling yourself that no matter what you can’t sleep in, try giving yourself more time to unwind at a slightly earlier bedtime.
When we allow ourselves to have more wonderful things like healthy food, more time, more thoughtfulness, and then we don’t feel like we are depriving ourselves. Then slowly but surely the good habit will overtake the bad one.
2. Take Responsibility
Owning up to your own weakness (or even addressing one in the first place) is a great place to start building a new habit. It is also vital to realize that if you want to start a new habit that it is entirely up to you. Friends and family can help you, but if you are relying on them to force you to keep your goals, then it isn’t going to happen. The best motivation is self-motivation. Realize that change is up to you, and here is the good part that comes with that, the reward is all yours. You are the one that is going to look smoking hot in that swim suit. You are the one who is going to get more done, learn a new skill, and increase your happiness. It is all up to you (and only you).
3. Make it Easy
If you want to start waking up earlier every morning, and have been sleeping in until 11am every day, then don’t think that waking up at 5am the next day is going to be a pleasant experience. Where you can ease yourself into an activity do so. There are simple ways to make your habit easier for you, and the easier a habit is the more likely you are to keep it.
This can be as simple as setting out your workout clothes the night before, prepping dinner once a week, or even putting sticky notes up to remind you of your goals. Building habits is hard at first and get easier as you see the reward start to manifest, but until then, make it as convenient as possible!
4. Give Yourself Time
We live in an instant world. But you have to remember that change isn’t instant. We all have to take time to not only plan out our new habits, realize why they are important to us, but we also have to give ourselves time to change. Keep in mind too that some habits don’t have a tangible reward—the reward is peace of mind, mental stamina, or even increased happiness (all things that are hard to measure).
5. Tackle one Thing at a Time
Habits are fun to make but hard to keep. Come New Year’s Day we have a list of everything wrong with us and how in one year we are going to find perfection. The reality is we need a good mix of time, motivation, and determination to make our habits happen. Try taking one new habit a month, and only building on to your routine when you feel that you have mastered the first. Remember focus is the name of the game, so don’t delude yours by trying to scratch off your whole list the first month.
Don’t give up when you fail, don’t let a couple of days off your goals stop you for trying again. Remember that you are capable of amazing change, but only if you keep trying.