Everybody talks about the importance of building healthy habits that will help you reach your goals. While everybody talks about it, many of us are still struggling to understand how to build them. No matter how hard we try, we keep going back to our old habits. It is so difficult to stick to them. Here is what I learned through various books and also through working with Dr. Jim Loehr at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando.
Why are habits so important?
Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
Being consistent in what you do is what brings you one step closer to success. To be disciplined is not easy. It drains energy, especially if what you chose to do is a very complex thing. That’s why habits are important.
Once a habit is formed, you’ll be able to perform any given task with little or no effort.
That’s why there is a strong need to build positive habits that will help you save your energy and time while you are hustling. You have to repeatedly invest yourself, day in and day out into building a habit.
Imagine that point in life where you unconsciously block all the negative triggers from the environment because you’ve built a strong foundation for it!
Why is building habits so difficult?
According to the author of “The Power of Habit”, Charles Duhigg, not many of us understand how the habits are structured. As a result of that:
- We tend to set unattainable goals (eg. “Even though I am eating every day processed food, sugar and drinking coffee 5 times a day, from tomorrow I will do my 6-day detox on juices and lose 5kg)
- We forget to reward ourselves for our efforts and create a positive reaction to the behavior we are trying to turn into a habit (eg. most negative habits such as drinking coffee/alcohol, or taking drugs light up our brain and trigger dopamine release which makes us feel good about it; positive habits don’t have immediate effect and therefore it is advisable to associate a reward with it which we generally omit to do)
- We lack the consistency (most rituals can be acquired within 30 – 60 days but by failing to understand how to structure a habit, we give up all too soon)
The truth is, most of our habits have become part of our everyday life as a result of repetitive triggers in our environment. We tend to respond to them with certain behavior and so the habit is created intentionally or not. No wonder people keep saying – chose your environment carefully.
When trying to create a good setting to build/break a habit ask yourself the following questions:
- Why did I acquire this bad habit in the first place?
- What kind of environment will help me sustain my goal?
- Why do I want to build this habit?
- How can I break this habit into smaller goals?
- What will be an obstacle to building this habit? What will prevent me to achieve it?
Dr. Jim Loehr likes to say that it is best to focus our efforts on what we want, rather than what we don’t want. Say we have a habit of getting mad about something easily. Rather than making our habit about not getting angry, we should focus on how to positively respond to those situations.
Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.
How do you build healthy habits?
Here are a few tips that should help you build your habits and stick to them:
- Aim small to miss small. Start modestly and gradually push your limits. Start by doing one push up a day, to get to 100 push-ups. And make sure you reward yourself in the process!
- Keep your habits simple. Don’t make too big of a change all too soon. It will be easier to fail than to succeed.
- Aquire only a few habits at any given time. Being over ambitious when trying to build habits is not a good idea.
- Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Remember Dr. Jim!
- Find your own pace and be persistent. You want to make your habits easy to achieve, not easy to give up on. So be realistic and honest and allow yourself time to gradually progress towards the desired goal. Journal your progress!
It is ok to skip your habit here and there. Different circumstances do tend to break our routines, and we shouldn’t lose our mind over it. There is a good quote that I want to use as a way to finish this blog and it says:
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Be ready to stumble and fall. But also be ready to get up and keep going!
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