The prominent British playwright, W. Somerset Maugham once said, “An unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.” Words spoken hundreds of years ago still ring true. Though everyone knows that positive habits are crucial for personal and professional accomplishments, people still struggle to stick with them.
However, with a little bit of self-discipline and scientific logic, you can readily form new positive habits that stay. The following 6 tips will help you build positive habits that will stay with you for years.
1. Dream Big but Start Small
You can always dream big, but it doesn’t mean you have to start big as well. In fact, when it comes to accomplishing a large-scale goal, you should work your way up through small steps or micro goals. This will allow you to reach your destination without wearing yourself out. Plus, it is not possible to envision the detailed roadmap of a large-scale goal until you have completed it. That’s why, irrespective of your careful planning, you will encounter several unexpected problems when achieving your end goal.
For example, if you want to start jogging every morning for an hour, set goals of running for fifteen minutes a day and gradually work your way up until your body and mind adapts to this lifestyle change. However, if you start running for an hour every morning, your jogging time will start shrinking eventually. In just a couple of weeks, you will go back to your old routine. In other words, breaking down your end goal into micro goals allows you to build your confidence and self-determination.
2. Eliminate Possible Distractions
The next biggest area of concern is identifying and eliminating the possible distractions or the “what-the-hell” moments. Irrespective of how small your good habit is, there will be tons of obstacles that will prevent you from developing it. In most cases, the what-the-hell effect is responsible for sabotaging your new habits. People often indulge in an action they immediately regret, but go back for more. Even the smallest slip results in abandoning the habit for good.
For example, imagine you are abiding by a strict diet for months. Even your gym instructor is happy with your performance. But, one fine Sunday morning, you feel like eating a piece of your favorite chocolate pie. So, you grab a piece, followed by a second, third and even a fourth one. There goes your diet! Soon, you are thinking, is dieting worth the effort? In other words, these what-the-hell moments are the biggest obstacles in developing a positive habit.
3. Create a Backup or Recovery Plan
Despite your careful planning, every new habit will have obstacles and slip-offs. Even the most successful people have experienced setbacks at some point in their lives. It is, therefore, necessary to have a backup or recovery plan.
The first thing you need to do is stop blaming yourself for the slip-off. Self-blame is one of the most dangerous forms of emotional abuse as it can quickly lead to self-sabotage. It is certainly counterproductive for developing a new habit. The best solution is to forgive yourself and move forward with a substitute plan.
Don’t let a small setback sabotage your plan. Instead, try to eliminate the reason behind your failure. For example, if you are not an early morning person, schedule an evening workout. If you tend to have a weekend binge, throw out the junk food from your kitchen. You need to figure out a recovery or backup plan tailored to your daily routine.
4. Be Patient
It takes considerable time to develop a new habit. Though several scientists are staunch supporters of the 21-day theory, it can take a lot longer than that to form a new habit. Various factors including your personality, environment, and your habits will decide how long it takes to get accustomed to a new habit.
Without patience, you will end up chasing your goals instead of accomplishing them. In short, you need to be patient even if it takes longer than expected to kick in a new habit. This is where your self-motivation and inner strength comes in. Make sure to keep yourself motivated throughout your efforts.
5. Set up Reminders
Reminders play a crucial role in developing a new habit. However, we are not talking about setting up a reminder on your phone or tablet. The best way to set a reminder for your new habit is to cue something that was already a part of your daily routine before the new activity came along.
For example, if you are going to meditate for five minutes after your morning shower, make the morning shower your reminder for the meditation. You can use a variety of routine tasks such as putting your shoes on, brushing your teeth, getting out of the bed, and turning off the lights as reminders. These simple reminders will help you prevent slip offs.
6. Reward Yourself
One of the best ways to avoid falling off the wagon is to reward yourself for developing a positive habit. According to Ron Siegel, a psychology professor at Harvard University, one of the most critical aspects of sustainable self-motivation is pleasure and joy. As it happens, the reward system is the best way to accomplish both.
However, make sure to find a healthy reward system to appreciate your progress. Treating yourself to a piece of chocolate cake after successfully losing a few pounds isn’t the best way to reward yourself. Instead, you can do so with a new movie or a concert, a new book from your favorite author or even a trip to the salon.
Positive habits play a crucial role in personal and professional success. However, developing a good habit despite your busy daily routine is easier said than done. But, if you take a logical and scientific approach, you can develop a good habit that stays in just a few weeks. Hopefully, these six tips will help you form healthy habits successfully.