No matter how much you start off the new year, promising yourself that you will absolutely stick to your new habit this year, the chances are that by now you have already faltered, if not completely given up. It is important to know that this doesn’t make you a failure, just that you have not gone about setting the habit in the best way. Here is how to make a new habit and stick to it.
What goes wrong
Before we can look at how to make a new habit stick, we must first look at what it is that prevents us from doing that. There are a few obstacles that get in our way when it comes to forming new habits. For example, we put off starting the habit for various reasons, and that perfect day to start never comes. We get bored of the tediousness of sticking to a plan. And finally, we rationalize not doing the habit, and this overpowers our desire to stick to it. Here are three ways we can overcome these common obstacles.
Focus on the start
Staring is the hardest part, but once you are over that hurdle, you should be good to go. Set yourself a trigger for when you are going to do the habit every day. At that time, (it can be a set time, like 9.00am, or it can be after an action, such as when you have eaten breakfast), just launch yourself into the habit, rather than putting it off at all. Remind yourself just to start, each time. Don’t be ashamed to start off small, for example, if you want to be able to write 3000 words a day; it’s okay to build up the habit with just 1000 to start with. The important thing is to start.
Although we tend to be constantly distracted, just working towards the next item on our todo list, that is actually not useful when it comes to building up habits. It is important to be present in the habit and really live in the moment. Make an effort to see it as something you get to do, rather than have to do, and that it is a positive, mindful practice, rather than a chore. This will help with the tedium of having to stick to a plan.
Don’t let yourself rationalize
We often find ourselves rationalizing reasons not to do something, because it is easier than doing it. We tell ourselves that we’ll do it later, or that missing one time won’t make a difference, but it is here that things fall apart. Instead of giving in to these rationalisations, take a moment to pause, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself why you wanted to commit to the habit in the first place. Are those reasons still relevant? Do you want to devote yourself to this? Hopefully, this reflection will remind you that you have committed to something for a reason, and make sure that you don’t ruin it all in a split moment decision.
So start that new habit today! Whether you want to work out more, meditate or drink plenty of water. Say no to everything that’s holding you back and remember how to get over those obstacles.