Building a habit is difficult and for a lot of people can create a lot of resistance even though they are starting something that may well be good for them. Research differs but building a habit with a very good chance of keeping at it requires 21-30 days of practice. Habits can be so difficult to keep for a number of reasons; for me the biggest reason is I make my intended habit too difficult and complicated when I first try to adopt it. Here’s the top four tips I’ve found to keep at something.
1) Do your habit every day for at least a month when you start
If you do this you’ll have the best chance of staying with it. I did this when I wanted to meditate every day and it definitely worked. Doing something this regularly for even a short amount of time can make it stick.
3) Know your reasons for wanting to take up or stop a habit and set SPECIFIC goals
Aimlessly trying to go to the gym with no real purpose will be difficult to keep. If you set goals like wanting to lose weight, tone up or be able to get in to smaller clothes you are a lot more likely to go for it. Not having a specific goal in my experience leads only to procrastination.
2) Include regularity
When I wanted to meditate every day the only way I could make sure I did it was to have a set time every day purely for this and for nothing else. If you get used to having a certain time to do something then it will get ingrained in your routine. If you want to go to the gym every day then make sure your kit is packed the night before and left somewhere that will be a reminder such as at the foot of your bed or by the front door.
4) Write it down and remind yourself
If I make a list of things I want to do for the day I know these things will get done, if I just think about what I want to do I know I won’t finish everything I want to. Committing our goals to paper makes them much more concrete, make sure you see this piece of paper every day for the first month of your new habit. I also like to put reminders on my phone and use apps to remind me, especially at the start.
Starting or stopping a habit can be hard but we can make things easier for ourselves by not complicating them, experimenting for a short time, clearly defining our desired outcomes and also making sure we are regularly reminded of our goal.
As with a lot of things in life we make things difficult for ourselves – if you want to do something new then boil it down and make it as simple as possible!