It’s hard to develop habits that stick. They have a bad habit of not staying around. You put off your workout for a day and it turns into a week, a month, never working out again.
Of course, you always have an excuse as to why you didn’t follow-through, but that’s all it is. And we’re all very good at making excuses.
Avoiding excuses is key.
Unfortunately, we all have limited willpower and energy, so we can’t rely on willpower and energy to develop a new skill or habit.
Instead of relying on willpower to make a habit stick, let’s deconstruct how habits are formed and figure out how we can use that knowledge to build any habit we want into our lives with very little effort.
It’s time to stop relying on willpower.
So how do you turbo-charge your habit development? By understanding how habits form in the first place.
We complete our routines because there’s a trigger for it, then a reward at the end. Charles Duhigg defines this as the habit loop in his book The Power of Habit:
“First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.”
That actually seems pretty simple, right? Make a cue, do your habit, reward yourself. Done!
Not so fast!
Let’s start with your desired habit. How can you pick a habit that’s worth sticking to?
Let me preface this by saying you should only try to develop one habit at a time! Don’t over-do it. Trust me when I say that one habit is plenty to focus on.
So which habit should you pick? Well, one that you really want!
Take a look at your priorities and figure out one thing that you could get into the habit of doing regularly that would make your priority easier to accomplish. If you have a fitness or health priority, try a simple workout habit.
And I do mean simple. That’s how you want to start, as easy as possible. Make the barrier-to-entry as easy as possible. If you want to start working out – do one push-up every day. If you want to meditate – do it for 2 to 5 minutes per day. If you want to write every day – commit to just doing a paragraph.
Once you’ve decided on what habit you want to create, then you can start looking into the rest of the process.
Picking a cue.
Having a good cue definitely, helps to kick start a good habit. But what signifies a good cue?
Anything that you’ll notice, honestly. For a habit that’s hard to form, like working out, make it as painfully obvious as possible – put your running shoes next to your bed so you step on them when you wake up.
Want to start dieting? Put a few bright post-it notes on your fridge as a reminder to eat healthily.
My cues are built into my day – you can do the same. My meditation cue is lighting a stick of incense when I wake up. I like the smell of Nag Champa, so I light it and get ready to meditate.
My workout cue is an empty cup of coffee. I instinctively know it’s time to work out when I’m done with my morning cup.
Next up – craving your reward.
A cue isn’t enough. Your reward is the key to creating a habit that sticks. You have to pick a reward that you absolutely crave.
Celebrate often and indulge your senses on this one. There’s no reason to feel guilty about your reward, you’ve earned it.
My reward for meditation is my morning coffee. I actually tell myself as I’m drinking my coffee, “This coffee is awesome, and I earned it by meditating today.”
Once my coffee is gone, I work out, then reward myself with a delicious homemade waffle, some sausage or bacon, an egg and a protein shake.
Want to guess what I tell myself while I’m eating? I’m sure you’ll get it right.
Look forward to a bigger reward.
Another way of looking for a reward that’s actually motivating is to look toward your ultimate goal with your habit.
This is especially true for physical habits like diet and exercise – you can visualize yourself looking and feeling better and get a boost of motivation. Maybe you want that beach body one day. Keep that in mind when it starts to feel tough.
This really boils down to having a bigger, better reward in the future. It won’t do much for your day-to-day habit formation, but when you hit a low point you can remind yourself why you’re trying so hard.
Where will you start?
It’s past time you get started on developing good habits, so where will you start? Here’s a list of suggestions from SUCCESS – pick one of these if you’re having trouble deciding where to start.
Once you’ve picked your habit, leave a comment below and we’ll help you get everything planned out!