I love the idea of building new good habits, however I’m not always good at making them stick. Most people I know feel the same. Almost no one says – I just started going to the gym everyday 4 year ago and never stopped going since then.
Is challenging to stick to new habits, and even more challenging to let go of bad habits. I came to a huge realization
If I can learn to build any new habit, I have one of the most powerful tools to change my life.
Duh! Obviously I got a little late to this parade, (en realidad nunca es tarde) since there are millions of books, blogs, videos, quotes, projects and challenges all done precisely about the importance of habit building.
I got into reading and learning from all these “Build New Habits” material (most of them I found on the internet) as much as I could. I started choosing the ones that I felt worked best with my skills and circumstances.
I tend to be more interested when I read materials that have a personal story attached to it, analogies and examples. I can relate better with somebody saying –This is what happens to me when I set a trigger… than when somebody just says –For habit building set a trigger.
For me the more personal the better. Assuming that you might like it that way too, that is my approach when I telling you about my building new habit process.
The system I’m using is SEA CHANGE from zenhabits.net
I can’t recommend this program enough and I don’t get paid to recommend it. This is just out of my love for participating and seeing my results.
This list only has the main 3 things I did different from the way I use to build habits in my life that made a HUGE difference. There are more, I’m going to start with these three
In the Sea Change Program there is a new module that helps members build a new habit every month. At first I was so overwhelmed and felt so busy that it was very hard to take the time to do any extra tasks let alone any habit building practice from the program. Very quickly I realized that the reason why I felt that way was precisely because I needed to build better habits into my lifestyle. After a couple of weeks I decided to just STOP and take a day to get into it and read through and follow instructions (I tend to skip instructions naturally).
My default mode is to be always productive and making sure I’m managing my time and energy wisely. That has lead me to feeling guilty when I spend more than 30 min. reading something or trying to learn something new. The result is that I unconsciously expect to build a better lifestyle by reading a blog for 15 minutes today and maybe checking it out next week again. Not happening!
As always you get out as much as you invest in. It goes like this, because I manage my time and energy I prioritize. When I set aside a whole day to immerse myself in learning that which will bring major progress into my life I don’t feel guilty. Simply because I know my tasks are aligned to my goals.
Take quality time (specially if you feel you don’t have any) to learn and prepare yourself for all the new things you are learning. If you don’t have time take a at least 4 hours during a Sunday. I recommend blocking more time that your mind thinks it will take.
Two reasons why this is very difficult for me:
1. Small is relative and it also depends on the past experience you have with an specific habit. Every one has a different idea of small and my idea of small is still big (so I leaned). For example (if talking about fitness) to me first idea of small was to go to the gym and take a class exercise for an hour 4 days a week. Wrong! Small will be to just go running for 5 min. everyday.
2. My ego is very focused on getting satisfaction from building this habit quick. Every time I did more (to get instant satisfaction and feel proud) I fell of the wagon or burned out. This happened to me over and over again. First week: I start with a 5 min run everyday (after persuasion, because I’m still thinking this is ridiculous, who gets results from 5 min?). After the first week and even some days of that week I say to my self you are ready to do 15 min. you aren’t a beginner, then third week I find myself doing 20 min. and so on. By the second month I have already stopped running every day and some days I don’t even run 20 min.
I start small because building a habit is not about challenge, nor about achieving quick results or pride. Is about consistency and lifestyle.
How small should my habit be? If you are new to the habit make it so easy you could never say no. (New to meditating, start with 2 minutes and stay there for a month) If you are improving a habit that is already on it’s way of automatization add small tiny steps on the days you don’t do it or on top of what you do (If already meditating 4 days a week for 30 min, meditate 5 min. the other 3 days you don’t do it).
If you are still doubing about the effectiveness of starting small this might help
Countless times I asked friends to hold me accountable or do the practice with me. The problem is I have no friends that were that committed or passionate about building habits, so those deals always ended at some point and some deals never even started.
I tried participating in already formed specialized groups. I did that for running, reading and meditating. It also didn’t work because it was hard to match my availability with their meet-up days. Also people’s levels were very different, affecting the progress of my practice.
The solution for forming accountability around my habits was an online FORUM. Sea Change includes a forum platform with the membership, however there are tons of apps and online forums that you could use.
In the forum there are LIKE MINDED people giving you feedback and reporting their progress daily just like you. Their level doesn’t affect you because everyone does their habit at their own times. If a team member decides to stop practicing or don’t show up there is always more members in your team and in the forum. I’m never left hanging.
Further more, my team members became my friends and I learn from their perspective and experiences. The biggest benefit of the forum is how I think twice to go in there with a bad habit report. Many times I end up doing my habits so that I can report I did all my habits. I can’t tell you helpful this is specially at the beginning. The building back your self trust phase.
There are tons of people in the world wishing to build habits with other like minded people. Team work is key, otherwise you would have done by yourself long time ago. Set yourself up for accountability as soon as you start your habit practice
There are more but I could say that just by implementing and setting up those three actions my practice to make habits stick progressed in ways I could’ve never imagine.
What so you think? What habits have you tried to build lately? have you gotten out of the wagon since new year resolutions? or are you still sticking to your new habits? I would love to hear about yours successes and failures regarding habits. Remember that what we share can be medicine for someone else and for sure a step closer to a stronger vida!