“Motivation is what gets you started. Commitment is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn
New habits are easy to start. I know. I started one just a few weeks ago. “No TV or computer games from Mondays to Wednesdays!” I declared. It went really well for a week. Then I had a crummy day, I played my game for a bit, I had fallen off the wagon, and I’ve yet to get back on. Sound familiar?
Yes, habits. Easy to think of. Easy to start. Hard to follow through on.
Look, it’s normal. As adults, new habits are hard to solidify. I have managed to make some habits stick as an adult, but they have taken conscious focus and effort. So, if you are looking to nail the process of absorbing a new habit, here are a few tips that might help…
1. One Month
Habits are not formed overnight. They are not formed over a few days. For something to really bed in, you need to give it at least a few weeks. Well, let’s allow time for mistakes and falling off the wagon. Let’s call it a month! Giving yourself a month to create a new habit is a much more realistic goal than a few days. Also, by committing to this conscious time frame, you are giving yourself a structure to work in, which is always more efficient than freefalling for an undisclosed amount of time.
2. Be Consistent and Specific
Create a timetable and be consistent. If your goal is something like, “I should eat less chocolate,” you will probably fail. It is too vague, and you are giving yourself permission to break the habit when you feel like it. This is a slippery slope. The rule should be, “I will only eat chocolate once a week. On Saturday evening.” Keep to this, and do not compromise.
3. Don’t Leave a Hole
If your new habit removes something from your life, there will be a hole. Make sure that you fill that hole with something else. A good example is social media. Perhaps you have decided to stay off social media during the week. You will crave entertainment now. So, replace it with something. Games, writing, reading, running, whatever you like. But don’t leave that hole, because left unfilled, you will find yourself drawn back towards the old habit you are trying to break.
4. Get Back on The Wagon
You will probably fall back into the old habit along the way. Many people fall into the trap of using any failure to throw in the towel. Don’t. if you fail at the new habit one day, just start again the next day. Forget the failure, pick yourself up, and keep aiming for the goal.
5. Know What Knocks You Off Course
What triggers you to go back to your old habit? It is a good idea to think about the causes and the temptations that get in the way when trying to break your old habit. Knowing these, and making a conscious decision to avoid them will really help to keep you on course.
6. Accept Its Difficulties
Embedding new habits into your life is not easy, and you should know and accept this before trying to make the habit happen. Accepting the difficulties before you start will help you to focus throughout the period of making the new habit stick, and less likely to be put off when you stumble.
7. Be Kind to Yourself
We can all be guilty of beating ourselves up from time to time, I think. Don’t let the struggle get you down. Also remember that not everybody is the same, and what you find easy, somebody else might find difficult, and visa versa. Be kind to yourself and know that you have what it takes.
By Chris Thomson
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