How To Form Lasting Habits.
Let me ask you something:
Do you think about brushing your teeth in the morning? How about needing the motivation to get dressed? Or perhaps eating is where you hit a roadblock and need to watch motivational Youtube videos first?
Of course, the answer to these questions would be ‘No.’ Why? Because each of these is a habit: something you don’t think about but simply do.
The good news is that exercising, eating well, and other positive behaviours can become habits like the ones mentioned above. But you need the right strategies, so let’s review four actionable tips for building healthy habits.
Many people shoot themselves in the foot by trying to do too much right from the start. A typical example would be dieting. Instead of making small changes, most people go on these restricted diets that change their entire nutritional approach.
Sure enough, within a few weeks or months, these individuals get fed up and return to their previous behaviours, only to erase all of their hard-earned progress.
A much better approach is to start small: pick something so easy that you don’t need motivation to get started. Do a few minutes of exercise, have one healthy meal each day, go to bed half an hour earlier, etc.
Do It Daily
Jerry Seinfeld, one of the world’s most accomplished and successful comedians, made it a point to write jokes every day. Even if he missed a day from time to time, he wouldn’t allow that to turn into a pattern.
His idea was that consistency would allow him to get the average ideas out of the way and make room for his great ones. The same goes for everything else. Becoming great is about being consistent and building the right habits.
The next step in the process is establishing a chain of consistency, which will ingrain behaviours and turn them into habits.
Starting small is necessary for being consistent. Big changes might bring some quick early results, but what’s the point if you fail to do it daily?
Scale It Up
As you gain momentum with various positive behaviours, you can scale your efforts:
- One healthy meal per day can turn into two
- Ten minutes of exercise can turn into twenty minutes
Scaling things up slowly is necessary for staying on track and not feeling overwhelmed at any point. The person who exercises for one hour a day didn’t start that way. They probably began with just a few minutes and slowly worked up to that point.
Break It Down
The more you scale up behaviours, the longer it will take you to do your tasks, which can create friction and lead to problems with consistency.
One neat way to work around the issue and keep putting in the work is to break behaviours down into manageable pieces.
For example, let’s say that one of the habits you’ve been building is to do push-ups every day. Maybe you started with ten daily push-ups and slowly worked up to 100. Instead of doing them in one go, you can break them down into two sessions of 50 reps.