Here’s the no-frills, honest truth about establishing new habits. Whether you want to start a new habit or quit something, here are the 7 keys to understand before you get started.
Habits take time
Here’s the deal. Habits take time. 90 days, at a minimum. Some people are different. They can set habits in 21 days. If you’re reading this article, that probably isn’t you. And it’s definitely not me.
The majority of us require a lot of time to get into a routine of a new habit. Going to the gym. Eating more vegetables. Quitting that bad habit you have. It’s going to take time, and you won’t be perfect from time to time. Don’t let this discourage you, rather let it be an encouragement! You GET 90 days to mess up, fumble around, and figure out exactly HOW you’re going to get this new habit to stick. You won’t get it perfect right away, and that’s good news! Commit to the habit, and give it honest effort – every day- for 90 days. You CAN do it!
You need a plan.
Set a calendar reminder every week (literally, 5 minutes or less) to make a plan for the next 7 days and evaluate the past 7 days. You won’t succeed without a plan. “If you fail to plan, plan on failing.” It’s true guys, you need a plan. Now, if your plan is to “go to the gym at 5:15am everyday” that’s not going to cut it. If you stay up until 12pm the night before, chances are you won’t be willing to wake up in time to get to the gym. So your plan has to be more like “eat dinner at 6pm, prepare for tomorrow, read, and lights out at 9pm.” Those are the behaviors you need to plan! Yes your goal is to go to the gym, but the mindset and behaviors that impact that decision are put in motion way before your alarm goes off in the morning.
You wont feel like it.
Honestly. You won’t feel like going to the gym. You won’t feel like finding a new recipe with vegetables. You won’t feel like waking up early. You simply aren’t going to “feel like it.”
The majority of the time you won’t be motivated. You’ll have to really work hard to drag yourself to the gym. You’ll have to fight the urge to hit the snooze button. It’s hard and uncomfortable, and that’s really what it’s all about. This is the space where the discipline is built, and this is ultimately where so many failures occur. The moment you find yourself thinking, “I just don’t feel like ____” is the exact moment you’re searching for. You’re on the right track once you’re able to start pushing past that feeling! Keep it up, success is just beyond “I don’t feel like it” moments”
Give yourself grace.
You won’t be perfect, because nobody is. You’re going to miss days. You’ll forget, you’ll ge busy, the kids soccer game will run late. Listen, what if you forgot to brush your teeth today? You wouldn’t just quit and say, “I don’t have time for it.” No! You’d simply make the time to do it tomorrow. That’s what I’m talking about. That is a small dose of grace.
But you have to stay committed to the new habit because you know it’s the right thing to do. Commit to becoming better at the habit and you’ll get better! Quitting isn’t an option, you just might need to readjust the plan (don’t forget to make a plan and evaluate it).
Tell someone else
We need accountability. All that means is we need someone to help us achieve our goals, and we need someone who can encourage us along the way. Tell someone close to you what your 90 day plan is, and then check in with them regularly to let them know how you’re doing.
Be smart about who you tell – that friend who hates exercising and sits on the couch for 5 hours everyday isn’t necessarily the person to hold you accountable to go to the gym. Tell someone who makes you feel good, and someone who can challenge you. Or find someone who has already done what you’re trying to do. Either way, tell someone and check in with them! It is powerful!
Track the results
Don’t over complicate this or it won’t work. But keep track of your positive habits so you can see that you’re on the right track! This has nothing to do with goals. Just track how often you actually do what you intend to do. We are trained to want things immediately and we so easily forget things that happened yesterday, last week or last month. Tracking how often you accomplish your new habit over these 90 days will give you some perspective.
You’ll also want to give yourself some encouragement along the way. If you’re doing well, reward yourself (not with cake and ice cream) with some positive self talk! You need to be a cheerleader for yourself, and if you’re winning you need some positive affirmation! “Keep it up” “You’re doing it” “Keep the momentum going” “Don’t stop now!” You get the point. Celebrate yourself, and to do that, you need to keep score! Track your results.
Here’s an example of two recent habits I got started. This is my tracker for each time I performed my tasks. Take a look at how infrequent and random I began, but then also see the consistency improve as I got closer to 90 days. I’m super encouraged by my results, and I’m happy to say I’m continuing on my trend. Many days, I still don’t feel like doing it, but I’ve been building my discipline so it is getting easier and easier. I’m even MOTIVATED to keep going because I’ve committed for so long now.
Get started today! Go back up to #1 and start there. Write down what habit you want to begin, make a plan, and get started!
Nick Prohaska | 816-659-3076 | firstname.lastname@example.org