Have you ever wondered why some people seem to get so much done?
When they say, ”I’m going to…” start exercising, eat healthy, get organized, read more, etc., you know that they’re going to make it happen.
But when you try to go after similar goals, it’s a completely different story.
You might be able to stick to them for a while, but then, somewhere along the way, you always lose your motivation and quit.
When that happens enough times, it’s easy to get frustrated and discouraged.
But creating and sustaining good habits doesn’t have to be so difficult and painful.
In fact, it can be quite easy. And it can even be a lot of fun.
Here’s how to develop good habits and make them stick:
1. Start small
Most people want to create big changes as quickly as possible.
They want to go from zero to four gym sessions every week right away or switch to a healthy diet overnight or meditate for 20 minutes every day even though they’ve barely managed 5 minutes in the past.
The problem, of course, is that this requires a tremendous amount of willpower. And research has shown that willpower works a lot like a muscle. If you use it a lot, it will get tired. And when it does, you’ll be very likely to quit.
The solution to this problem is to start so small so that it requires less willpower:
- Instead of waking up 2 hours early, start with 15 minutes.
- Instead of doing fifty push-ups per day, start with five.
- Instead of switching to a new rigorous diet, add a vegetable to every lunch
Focus on establishing the actual habit behavior first. Do not increase the effort before it has become a natural part of your routine.
2. Get Hooked on Your Habit
Have you noticed how hard it is to let go of a project when you have invested a lot of effort into it? We can use this tendency to our advantage.
This is a very clever strategy you can use to create a visual reminder of how much effort you’ve invested in your habit. You will likely find that the longer the chain grows, the harder you will fight to keep it going.
So, get a calendar, put a marker next to it, and get to work on your habit. Your only job next is to not break the chain.
3. Celebrate Your Small Wins
If you are like most people, you are much better at beating yourself up for a bad performance than you are at rewarding yourself for a good one.
When it comes to managing ourselves, for some reason, we seem to prefer the stick to the carrot. And that’s a shame because research has shown that celebrating your progress is crucial for your motivation.
Each time you reward yourself for making progress, no matter how small, you activate the reward circuitry in your brain.
That releases some key chemicals which make you experience feelings of achievement and pride. These emotions, in turn, empower you to take action and create bigger successes in the future.
So, reward yourself for each step in the right direction, no matter how small they happen to be.
4. Design Your Environment
In many ways, your environment drives your behavior. Have you ever walked into your kitchen, spotted a plate of sugar cookies on the counter, and eaten them just because they were in front of you? If so, you know what I mean.
Design your immediate environment to make it more friendly for your desired habit. If you want more work done, design your office to make it more productive.
5. Surround Yourself With Supporters
The people around us has a surprisingly big impact on our behavior. We tend to feel the same way, and adopt the same goals, as the people we spend the most time with.
So, one way to dramatically increase your chances of success is to make sure you have the right people in your corner.
If you want to make big things happen in your life but you are surrounded with pessimists who drag you down, it may be time to create a support group that inspires you and picks you back up when you fail.