Although we all have goals and dreams, the reality is that if it were easy to change our habits, we’d be a nation of skinny, attractive people with great jobs and great personalities!
Of course, the fact that few of us have succeeded on all of these levels doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to change our habits. Really, it just means that we need to be more conscious of the struggles involved in meeting goals through the creation of new habits. Here are a few habit-forming tips you’ll find useful if you’ve ever struggled to adopt a new lifestyle:
Step #1 – Set realistic goals and timelines
Before you can start changing your habits, you’ll want to identify the major goals that you’re working towards. Although goals and habits are two sides of the same coin, it’s important to note the distinction between these two concepts. Goals are the overarching visions you have for how you want your life to be different; habits are the specific actions you take in order to bring about these changes.
For example, if your overall goal is to lose weight, the specific habits you’ll want to change might include taking a walk every afternoon or cutting out fast food. Alternatively, if you want to be more persuasive, making it a habit of speaking in assertive tones or using positive body language are the habits you’ll want to adopt.
Now, in general, one of the biggest traps that many people fall into when it comes to goal-setting – and, consequently, determining which new habits they’ll attempt to implement – is to try to do too much, too quickly. Realistically, if you want to lose 100 pounds, you won’t be able to do it in a few short months!
Instead of setting yourself up for failure by attempting to do too much, pare back your goals to more realistic timelines. As a rule of thumb, try to change no more than 3-5 habits at a time. Only when you feel comfortable with the new habits you’ve adopted should you try to add more!
Step #2 – Break desired changes down into measurable pieces
Once you’ve identified the overarching goals you’re working towards, you’ll need to identify the individual habits you’ll need to either adopt or eliminate in order to achieve the visions you’ve created for yourself.
To do this, closely examine your own lifestyle and the existing habits you have that have led to your current, undesirable state. Unfortunately, because everybody’s unique challenges are different, there’s no single set of universal habits that can be adopted in order to bring about positive lifestyle changes.
As in the case of our weight loss goal above, one person attempting to lose weight may need to focus on adding regular exercise to his daily routine, while another person may benefit more from consistent dietary changes. Only by taking careful note of the unique factors in your own life that have led to an undesirable state will you be able to identify the specific habits you’ll want to change.
Step #3 – Make use of accountability systems
Once you’ve identified the habits you want to change, you’ll need to find some sort of system to keep yourself accountable to the goals you’ve set for yourself. Fortunately, there are plenty of different options available to keep you on track!
If you’re a fairly self-motivated individual, consider a mobile app like “Way of Life” or “The Habit Factor” that’ll give you a place to record your habit-making progress. The best apps in this category offer motivating tools and reporting features that show how well you’ve managed to stick to your goals.
On the other hand, if you respond more to external encouragement, consider a website like StickK. Through this program, you’ll partner up with an accountability coach and put money on the line in order to motivate you to stick to your new habits. If you’re afraid you’ll be tempted to fall off the wagon, check out the StickK feature that will send money to a charity you dislike if you don’t follow through with your chosen habits!
Finally, while the process of creating new habits and breaking bad routines can be made easier by following the steps listed above, keep in mind that integrating positive changes into your life isn’t always easy. It takes regular, consistent effort to make meaningful changes in your life – especially if you’re shooting for a goal that’s a tremendous departure from your present self.
For this reason, if you happen to fall off the wagon when it comes to regularly practicing your new habits, don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead, pick yourself up and remember that every new day gives you an opportunity to adopt the habits that will bring about the changes you desire.