HOW TO CREATE LASTING HABITS




You are a boss babe. You can change your habits even if so far you have not been able to stick to anything yet.

It was because you did not have the tools I am going to equip you with in this article.

You may have tried a countless times to stick to a mindful motivating morning routine and a relaxing night time routine with little success.

I am the most undisciplined person I know. I am addicted to instant gratification and who can blame me, I live in the 21st Century.

However, undisciplined as I am, for the past couple of months, I have been able to build and maintain a number of healthy habits that, only months later, have borne incredible fruit in my life. How did I do it and more importantly, how can you?

In this article, you will learn why and how to:

✓Focus on systems not goals

✓Start smaller than you think you need to

✓Create cues and prompts

✓Never aim at 100%

✓Just start over/be kind to yourself

✓Restarting is more important than skipping

✓Focus on process not outcome

✓Rely on more than self discipline (environment design and accountability)

✓Prepare resistance

✓Steady increase and consistency

✓Replace don’t eliminate bad habits




1. Goals do not matter as much as systems

The best books on habits is by far James Clear’s Atomic Habits (I highly recommend it). This book changed the life of my previously lazy, unmotivated, procrastinating self.

He begins the book by explaining that most goals will not get you far when it comes to habit formation.

I totally relate. I have always set out to lose 10 pounds then 14 pounds, now it is 20 pounds and I have been unsuccessful all previous times.

Having a goal does little to sway the vote, having systems makes all the difference.

It is not wanting to lose weight but eating healthier and exercising that will do the trick.

In order to stick to any habit, you need to start focusing outside of will power and thinking: how can I make sure that I actually stick to the process no matter the circumstances?

What do you need to do to make sure that you eat healthy? What do you need to do to guarantee that you will finish all the tasks on your to do list before leaving your desk to gossip with your colleagues?


2. Start smaller than you think you need to

I learned this and many of the following tips from Anthony Ongaro, Author of Break The Twitch. For years, I struggled with wasting my mornings on scrolling on my phone and my my evenings likewise.

Last year I started reading my Bible and praying every single morning, a habit I have been trying to form unsuccessfully ever since I was a teenager.

I realized that in the past I would try to read entire chapters of the Bible and pray for myself, my family, friends, country and almost everything else in the mornings. Spending anywhere between thirty to ninety minutes. 

This time around, I decided that reading just two Bible verses was enough and praying for two minutes would do. Needless to say, overtime, I built this muscle so that I spend way more time in the morning reading and praying.

However, on hard days, I still know that one verse and a short prayer is all I require of myself.




In the same way, whatever habit it is you are trying to form, start small. Take the pressure off. You do not need to read a book every week or every month, simply read a paragraph every evening.

A paragraph every evening for a year is an entire book. It is better than never reading a book your entire adult life like a majority of the population.

Break the habit into the smallest unit possible that can make a cumulative difference over time so that you have no excuse.

An example is working out once every week instead of every day. At the end of the year, you will have had 54 work out sessions when previously you had none. Next year, you can try twice every week.

3. Create Cues and Prompts

James Clear talks about having cues in your environment that serve as reminders of the action you are supposed to do.

The easiest example is having a glass of water on your desk if you want to drink more water.

I always have my journal and Bible set up on my desk every night. When I sit down on my desk every morning, I begin with reading my Bible and journaling.

Putting a book on your night stand, having your work out clothes out, etc. These are cues. The inverse works with bad habits.

Removing junk food from your home, leaving your phone in another room before going to bed, intentionally avoiding the friends you used to do drugs with.

From the onset, respond to those cues because if you get used to ignoring them and making excuses, they will not work

4. NEVER AIM AT 100%

I rarely leave the house, almost never (I work from home). So when it came to working out, I chose something that did not require me to leave like joining a gym or running because I knew I would fail at that.

I use a HIIT workout routine video three times a week. The problem is, there are five exercises, being repeated three times and there is one that I cannot for the life of me keep up with or figure out. 

When I started, I could not finish the 15 minute workout and I decided it was okay. I would build up to the entire 15 minutes.

I am still at the 10 minute mark but I cannot do one of the moves at all. It is okay. 4 out of 5 is still an A.

I encourage you to show yourself a lot of grace in this process. Start small and let some mistakes slide.

The important thing is that you aim for at least 1% improvement everyday.

5. Just start over

Also known as be kind to yourself. 

A lot of people give up on habits all together when they miss out on one day or one entire month.

Skips one work out, quits the gym entirely. Binge watches Netflix one night, makes it every night.

Do not let guilt, shame and despair fester for too long or at all.



Habit formation is about resilience. You need to pick yourself up and start again even when you fail. It’s all about your ability to fall and get up again and again and again.

Restarting is more important that missing

If you skip a day or two whole months, stop the self pity and get back up again. Restart. It is more important that you try again than that you missed.

6. Focus on your actions not the outcomes

I have tried to lose weight a million times before and I always give up because whenever I weigh myself at the end of a week of dieting and exercising, I see zero or minimal change.

In Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about the plateau of latent potential. It is like increasing room temperature with an ice cube on the table.

Increasing the temperature a degree at a time makes absolutely no difference until you reach 32 degrees.

31 degrees is the barrier to the breakthrough and then the ice cube just melts away.

If you focus on the outcome at 10 or 28 or 30 or even 31 degrees, you will give up.

If you focus on increasing the temperature day in day out, eventually, you will shatter through the barrier.

It will seem like an overnight success but really, it is a sum total of all the previous action. 

So when I started my new weight loss journey, I stopped looking at the scale daily, even weekly, I just focus on my healthy weight loss habits and check in once a month.

7. Do not just rely on discipline

Self discipline is great. But it cannot be relied on especially by people like me who have very little of it. More important is your environment and accountability.

Environment

Your environment should encourage your positive habits and as much as possible, dissuade your negative ones.

For examples, most homes in America have the TV as the focal point of the living room, are we really surprised at the amount of TV Americans watch? 

Reorder your environment with prompts and make it easier to perform positive tasks other than negative ones.

Fill your kitchen with fruits and delicious healthy treats and make it difficult to access any junk food by not even bringing it into the house.




If you want to sleep earlier or spend the evening talking to your partner instead of binge watching shows, remove the bedroom TV.

Accountability

The reason why negative habits flourish is because of all the shame and secrecy involved.  Just ask an addict or a food binger. 

When you have a support system, you are more likely to break a bad habit or stick to a good one.

That is why people using personal trainers are more likely to lose weight than those who don’t. Even doing a group fitness activity like spin class, yoga or other classes increase your chances of sticking it out.

Even though I work out at home, I told some of my family and friends that I was trying to lose weight seriously this time and that put me on the spot.

I try to update them on my progress. It has been incredibly helpful because I am afraid to fail.

Even with business or at work, make yourself accountable to someone else.

You can use online communities for entrepreneurs or weight loss or anything really to help you find accountability.

8. The point is not to do as much as possible today, it is to do it again tomorrow.

We talked about starting small already but this is an important mindset to have.

The point is always repetition. That is what a habit is. An action done repeatedly without having to think about it.

When I first started my blog, there seemed to be a million things I needed to do and I was getting quickly overwhelmed and discouraged.

After writing out an insanely long bullet to-do list. I wrote this words as a reminder to myself, 

“do as little or as much as possible. My blog is not a sprint. It is a marathon. Find joy in the mundane and repetitive.”

Real change is progressive and sustained. You cannot change your body overnight, or your business or your relationship or your nighttime routine.

There is no point of getting exhausted, overwhelmed and discouraged today. Do today and repeat tomorrow. That is the motto.

9. Prepare for hitting a wall

We already talked about seeing no progress until you hit a breakthrough but sometimes even after you get a breakthrough and you have finally settled into a groove, you will hit a wall. Seth Godin calls it The Dip.

Success is never linear. We always hit a point of plateau or regress and at that point, you need to hold on or let go.

Sometimes, you just do not see the benefits of a habit anymore or you just do not enjoy it anymore.

Stick with it even when you do not feel like it for a little bit longer before you throw in the towel.

Matt D’Avella did a series of 30 day habit challenges in 2019. In a YouTube Video reflecting on all those habits, he admitted that some of them made minimal impact to his life and some of them even made negative impacts.

He was glad to fail at intermittent fasting and did not see any significant gains from daily journaling and waking up at 5am and so had no desire to keep going with the.

His advice, after you have given something a decent shot and it is not working, it is okay to quit.

Do not quit out of fear, laziness or wanting to see quick results. If you do decide to quit. Let it be because there are no clear benefits being derived. 

Do not quit on the reason you started out the habit though for example do not quit on living healthier but if keto has proven impossible, ditch it and try calorie counting.

10. Consistency over leaps

Slow and steady wins the race. I know you started slow and now you want to up the threshold. You are pumped by the results you are seeing and you do the math in your head. 

If working out twice a week and eating 1200 calories a day helps me lose 6 pounds a month then by working out daily and eating only 1000 calories, I will have a beach body by summer.

Slow down. You will burn out and be even worse off than at the beginning. Increase your levels just as you started, little by little. And know where to stop.

Success can be an addiction and not the good kind. Do not drive yourself into becoming a workaholic, developing body image issues from obsessing over fitness or scheduling out every minute of your day so that no time is wasted.

Anything taken to the extreme is bad. If I up the amount of time I spend reading the Bible and praying to 16 hours a day, I will not have the time to live out the teachings of the Bible by showing my family, friends and community love.

11. To break bad habits, focus on replacing

Habits do not exist in vacuums and as a living being you can never be doing nothing. That is why you need to replace not just eliminate bad habits.

Replace them with something whose benefits and rewards appeal to you i.e. focus on the why. If you want to stop binge watching Netflix at night, focus on building healthy sleeping habits not on stopping to watch Netflix.

Being able to sleep well will make you more productive and happier. That is the reward.

Let me conclude by saying YES. YOU. CAN. The critique in your head is telling you that you are not the kind of person who changes but deep down you know he is wrong.

You know if you put your head down, build systems and stick to it, you can.

Did you find this advice helpful? Comment down below and please support by sharing with every boss girl you know.




Comments

  1. Great post. If I’m honest, my weakness has been being too hard on myself and setting high expectations for things to start out at 100% right from the start. What I’m learning and appreciating with my blogging journey is that..it’s okay if you don’t know everything right from the beginning. I use that to my advantage with the content I share on my blog to allow my audience to see the growth and process that happens when you’re improving your blogging capabilities. I will also look into the book recommendation about creating systems!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This blog post is everything I’ve been about lately lol trying to create new habits it’s so not easy you have really good tips and encouragement the thing I had to learn is that it isn’t a race ! And that If I fail I have to get back up instead of trying to forget it altogether lol

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great suggestions. I have always found that having environmental cues has a great impact for me. When I first wanted to increase my water consumption I purchased a new Brita water filter bottle to carry around with me so that it's right there wherever I am through the day - on my desk while I'm working, my bedside table when I first wake up, next to me on the table when I'm relaxing in the living room, etc. It really has worked wonders!

    ReplyDelete
  4. These are really good suggestions. I use a lot of these to stick to my good habits like having small goals (1 sun salutation a day), cues (I always meditate right before I work out), etc. Thanks for the reminders!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Incredible advice to start off the new year!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment