The Habit Strategy
We all have been there. Tried to start exercising, but gave up on day two. Tried to eat all healthy, but you just ordered french fries on day three. Tried to start studying a new subject, only to realize that you spent the whole of your after-work hours scrolling Instagram!
So I recently read this book The Power of Habit. It helped me a lot in understanding habits. My Learning and experiments with habits will be summed up in two posts. The first one (this one), will be on forming new habits and the next one will be on breaking the habits you don’t like.
Ok, let’s get to it. How do we successfully start a new habit?
The idea is to not just start but start with a clear strategy.
The Habit Strategy
Find your ‘Why?’
Find the reason why you want to do this. And it should be something you really desire on all subconscious and conscious levels. It should come within you and should not be something your mother or your partner or the society wants you to do. For me, I badly wanted to get out of my bad moods and feel more positive and energetic again. I really wanted to start living my life again.
And when you know your reason, write it down. Write it down in big bold letters. And place it somewhere you see every day. Hang it in your room or make it your phone wallpaper. Let it strengthen your desire.
One at a time
Always concentrate on one small habit at a time. The mistake I made was that I wanted to turn my life around in a one single day. I wanted to do everything — exercise, eating healthy, learning, all in a single day. You don’t have enough willpower for it. You end up failing at everything and then go on a self-loathing trip. Concentrate on one small thing at a time, once that becomes easy and automatic (which usually takes a minimum of 21 days, according to habit experts), move on to the next one. So don’t try all at once.
Start one. Make it a habit. Move on to the next.
Take it slow
Start it small and make it big. If you plan on exercising, make it 10 minutes on day one, 12 on day two, 15 on day three and so on. Same goes with diet. First maybe focus on eating healthy for dinner. Once that becomes easy for you, move on to lunch and then breakfast.
Set a goal and time
Write or type down your goal. Tell yourself, I am going to start learning to play guitar from 8 pm to 8:30 pm tomorrow. Or tomorrow, I am going to bathe immediately after coming from work and start cooking ‘this dish.’
Have a strong reward
You naturally get a reward out of doing each of these activities. The rush of endorphins from exercise or the sense of fulfillment you get from learning. If that is not enough to keep on you going, create your own rewards. Make yourself a tasty smoothie after the workout. Promise yourself an episode of your favorite series after you study for some time. Or create a sense of achievement. It might be in the form of tracking the number of steps you took each day. Or making ticks in the calendar signifying — “Yah! I ate healthy today.”
Finally, we are a generation so primed to expect instant gratifications. So, don’t expect changes right away. But you will surely see a different you in 3–4 months time.
What has helped you to start new habits? Mention in the comments below!
Thanks for reading! Check out my blog Way of Living for more useful posts like this. I basically write on living a more fulfilling and meaningful life.
Originally published at wayofliving.online on July 4, 2018.
How To Actually Start Something New And Stick to It was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.