3 Easy Ways To Build Lasting Positive Habits
Alarm goes off. Snooze. Snooze. Snooze. Roll out of bed twenty minutes later than you planned. No time for a shower...so dry shampoo it is. Breakfast from a drive-thru. On your way to work you are frantically fabricating excuses to tell your boss as to why you're late. Oh, and to add to the chaos, it's only MONDAY! The horror!!
Does this sound familiar? Ok, it may be a little exaggerated, but I got a few parts right and you know it. The problem doesn't come from doing this for just one day, it becomes an issue when you have repeated this behavior continuously day after day. Congratulations, you have just created a habit! And not one you're proud of.
Habits are actions that we repeatedly do without putting much thought into it. We, as humans, tend to form negative habits because we base our actions on how we think we will feel afterward. "My bed is so warm, so I'm going to stay here a few minutes longer". "I'm tired from work and don't feel like going to the gym". Sound familiar?
Creating a new positive habit, or replacing a bad one, isn't as difficult as you may think. But here's the kicker, you have to WANT to make the change or create a new behavior for it to actually stick.
Here are 3 ways you can start implementing habits to positively impact your life:
1. Start Small
If you think that setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier, planning a morning jog, making breakfast, and actually doing your makeup every morning is something that you can 100% commit to, then go for it. However, for most, that goal is just too big to stick to for the long term. Making a goal that you won't be able to commit to is just setting yourself up for inevitable disappointment. Set small goals that will enable you to celebrate small wins as you achieve them. Rather than setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier than usual, start with 5. Instead of planning a 30-minute jog every morning this week, start with a 5-minute walk around the block for 3 of the 7 days. My point is, start with a habit that you will, without doubt, be able to continue doing every day for the rest of your life. Once you master the small habits, you can slowly build upon them, until you get where you want to be.
2. Follow The 2 Day Rule
This one is perhaps the most simple. But let me just say, just because it's simple doesn't mean it's going to be easy. The 2 day rule is, never miss 2 days in a row. Print a basic calendar from the internet and use it as your accountability coach to stick to this rule. Whatever habits you are trying to create or change, mark off the days on the calendar that you complete the habit. This will give you a visual of your entire month and how disciplined you have been, or what needs to change. The point is, never go 2 days without marking off your completed habit. If, at the end of the month, you see that you had a hard time sticking to the new habit, change your goal. Start with something smaller.
3. Build A Support System
Perhaps the most important way to help yourself reach your goals is by surrounding yourself with people who have your back. We've all been there; trying to change our eating habits or wake-up routines when others in our household aren't on board, is nearly impossible. Ask yourself you else you can go to for support. Maybe a friend is going through the same thing, wanting and trying to change their life, but continue to fail because of the lack of support at home. Reach out and assign yourselves each other's accountability-buddy. Plan out which exercise classes you both want to attend, then you won't allow yourself to lay in bed because you are someone else accountability-buddy. They are counting on you to be there at 7 am, so you will be there at 7 am. Every time you want to eat the chocolate chip cookies your partner is indulging in, call your buddy and talk about it.
Another way you can use your support system to keep you accountable is telling them what your goals are. Saying your goals out loud, especially to another person, increases the likelihood that you will follow through. Even more extreme, but if it works, it works, is writing out a contract and signing it.
No matter what your goals are or what habits you want to build or change, you still have to make sure you are setting yourself up for success and designing a system to achieve them. Just saying, "I am going to stop biting my nails", is probably not enough to break the habit, but by planning on what you will do next time you have the urge to bite your nails, you are much more likely to replace that habit with something positive. The next time you set a goal of waking up earlier, exercising, eating breakfast, and/or getting to work on time, plan out exactly what you need to do to achieve these goals. Place your alarm in the kitchen next to the coffee maker. Put your running gear on top of your dresser so it's ready and easy to grab. Before you go to bed, get everything you will need for work tomorrow gathered up and organized. Set yourself up for success by setting small goals, never missing two days in a row, and getting yourself an accountability-buddy who will be there for you.