Habits are a funny thing. You seem to be able to form the bad ones so easily, often without even trying. But when it comes to forming a good habit or shaking a bad one, it gets a little trickier.
We have all been there. When you try to stop an old habit or start a new one, you always have the best of intentions and full motivation to stick to it… this time you will nail it for real! Whether you are trying to eat healthier, exercise more, meditate or drink three litres of water every day, some habits just don’t seem to stick.
So instead of admitting defeat, let's go back to the drawing board. Let’s look at the three best ways to set yourself up for success and help get your new habits to stick for the long haul so you can live your best life.
Three Ways To Fix A Stubborn Habit
1. Simplify The Habit
Maybe you are overwhelmed by the habit you are trying to ingrain? If something is too big or daunting, it is far too easy to lose motivation and give up. If you are feeling overwhelmed, then employ the same tactic you use when you set goals. Break it down into bite-sized chunks and make it achievable.
When you first start practising a new habit, you have an initial burst of excitement and motivation that powers you through the first days or weeks. But after that time, you will find the inspiration wanes and you might start to make excuses. But if you can make the habit simple and small enough, you will still be able to maintain it after your initial power burst fades away.
For example, if you want to get into the habit of drinking more water, start super small. Fill up a glass and put it by your bed every night, then challenge yourself to drink it when you wake up. Simple and easy to achieve. Once this is habitual, add in more water during the day.
2. Hone Your Focus
Perhaps, for some reason, you can't simplify your habit because of time, financial, or other constraints. If you are starting a new job, it is essential for you to learn the new skills and practices that go along with the role within a certain time period. In this kind of circumstance, you may not have the luxury of a slow build up.
In this case, narrow down your focus. Choose the one habit that is most important to the outcome to focus on. For the job example, it may be completing a training session or studying company materials. Put all of your energy into that one habit intensively and you will have it nailed in no time.
Often when you are setting new habits, there can be a tendency to overload yourself with a list of things you want to change. Instead of trying to tackle them all at once, it can be more effective to space the habits out. Focus on one at a time for a set period, until each becomes automatic. Then, move onto the next.
3. Commit For Longer
As you have already learned (and probably experienced in your own life) it is easy to excel at a new habit for a short time. But before long, you find yourself losing momentum down the line. It is exciting to learn something new - like playing the guitar or mastering a new language - but after the initial rush wears off it starts to feel like a chore.
Unfortunately many of us give up at that point, before we have had the chance to form it as a habit. It can help if you lengthen your commitment to the task.
Instead of going for a jog four times a week for the next month, promise yourself you will do it four times a week for the next three months. The promises you make to yourself hold a lot of power. So, if you achieve that one-month goal, you don't feel so obliged to keep going.
But, if you maintain dedication to that task for three months, by the time the period is up, it should be part of your new routine.
Habits can be really hard to form, even if it is something that you are really motivated about. Hopefully these three tactics will help you form the kind of habits you want to keep.