If you’ve looked at any of my other posts it’s obvious that the main habit that I’m trying to nurture is Writing, but I’m also focusing on nutrition and exercise as well. So, without further delay, here are my top 3 Best and Worst Ways to Build a Habit based on the last 3 months of my life.
1. Make it fun and reward yourself
Regardless of what habit you’re trying to form, you’re going to have more success if you do things to make it fun. Consider it a bribe of sorts. An example? Running; the only time I allow myself to binge watch TV shows on Netflix now is when I’m on the elliptical. If I’m REALLY into a show it’s a great motivator to get me up and moving daily. Cooking; I’ve finally gotten into the habit of cooking meals at home during the week, and my reward has been spending the extra money to make things that I actually WANT to eat. Funny how well that has seemed to work. Now with Writing I had to put more thought into how to reward myself. My current attempt at self-bribery is that I can’t read for the day until I’ve written for my alloted time frame goal. It’s a great motivator, but over the last week I’ve simply been too busy to write or read, which is unheard of for me.
2. Be patient
Oh, what a wise suggestion this is! Too bad I don’t know how to follow my own advice. It is CRUCIAL that you are patient with any habit that you’re trying to form. If you expect for it to be like second nature after the first week, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Building a habit takes time, it takes determination, and it isn’t easy. There are going to be days in the beginning that you’re going to miss or you’re going to half-ass, but the worst thing you can do is get frustrated with yourself. Chalk it up to the process, and as long as you’re THINKING about doing whatever it is you’re trying to form into a daily habit, you’re moving in the right direction.
3. Set Realistic Goals
This. This little suggestion right here is GOLDEN. It also makes me laugh hysterically at myself because I, regardless of my attempts to avoid it, always morph my seemingly realistic starting goals into impossible to achieve monsters of frustration and self-doubt. I want to start eating healthy and being more nutritionally conscious? Well then I’m NEVER going to eat food A, B,C,or D again!Even if all four were currently regular staples in my diet before beginning this journey. I want to start running? Well Hell, let’s go! Oh…I feel like I’m dying and can’t walk the next day? Damn. I haven’t been writing regularly, only on rare occasion, but here comes NaNoWriMo and I’m gonna do it because REALISTIC GOALS ARE MY ENEMIES.
Setting unrealistic goals leads to a lot of frustration in the beginning stages of this process, and often can lead to failure. So, lets not do that.
1. Binge start, and expecting to keep up that pace
When you’re hyped and excited about something you’re going to be rip-roaring and ready to go. It’s going to be easy, and exciting, and fun and all those things you love about said habit, but then after a few days this excitement and inspiration is going to wear off, and you’re going to replace all of that with simple dedication. People start doing new things all the time, but only the truly dedicated individuals will continue once things stop being new and fun.
Instead, pace yourself. Even if you feel like you can do a 3000 word sprint on your first day, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. The end goal shouldn’t be a word count amount, but the daily habit of writing.
2. The All-or- Nothing Approach
Oh man, this is another one that applies all to well to my life. When it comes to my habit building I am SUCH an all-or-nothing kind of person. If I don’t have the time to write the ENTIRE goal timeframe, I just wont write. If I don’t feel like I can do my ENTIRE run for the day, I just wont do it. This leads to a whole lot of days where I’m not getting anything that I want done, which then leads to frustration and disappointment, and eventually morphs into my third suggestion. Remember, even a little time or effort towards your goals on a daily basis will make a difference.
3. The Debbie Downer
Whatever you do, make sure that you don’t let that Debbie Downer negative voice in the back of your mind gain any volume. Mine gets pretty loud fairly quickly when I’m frustrated with myself, so I have to constantly remind myself of the progress I’ve already made. Any step forward is progress, and every day that you work on your goal is another that it becomes more natural for you. Don’t forget to keep your expectations realistic, and don’t be afraid to change them if you’re struggling too much in the beginning. Be patient, be realistic, and be determined and you’ll have a new habit in no time.