I give up
Does this sound familiar?
Day 1: “Yay! I can’t wait to start my new habit!”
Day 2: “I am excited to do my new habit again!”
Day 7: “I guess i will do my new habit today.”
Day 14: “I can’t do my habit today because (insert excuse here.)”
Day 15: “I forgot to do my habit today.”
Day 16: “I give up.”
In my experience people who just decide to start a habit typically make it to the second week before giving up on their habit. New habits can take anywhere from 14 days to 254 days to form. If you pick a hard habit it could take it up to 36 weeks before the habit becomes “automatic.” Learn more about how habits work.
“Nothing that’s worthwhile is easy. Remember that.” Nicholas Sparks.
Making new habits isn’t easy – but it’s worth the effort. Once your habit is formed you will do it “automatically” – every single day! If you do something everyday the results will accumulate and you will end up seeing significant change.
How to make habits that actually stick
So how do you make habits that actually stick?
- Give it time. Focus on the process not the results. Tell yourself that success is doing your habit not seeing massive changes overnight. An average habit takes 2 months to form. Track your success. Celebrate small successes like running your first mile or being able to meditate for five minutes.
- Link it to an existing habit. Make it a little easier for yourself. Instead of trying to create a completely new habit, link your habit to an existing one. If you want to start flossing link it to brushing your teeth. If you want to start doing planks link it to taking your shoes off when you get home.
- Practice it. Habits are chunks your brain creates by forming strong neural pathways. You can speed up the process of forming the neural pathways by practicing your habit. In addition to doing your habit when you get the reminder, do your habit other times too. For example if you want to do jumping jacks every time an advert comes on TV, practice your jumping jacks at other times too.
- Pay money to do it. This is using the “sunken cost fallacy” to your advantage. The more you invest in something you are more likely to keep doing it (for better or worse.) If you want to exercise twice a week, try paying for a personal trainer for three months – upfront.
- Start really small. When you begin your habit, start with something so small it almost feels silly. For your mind a habit that takes 10 seconds is the same as one that takes 10 minutes. If you want to start meditating, begin by doing it for one minute. Once you get past that tricky two week period, then increase it to two and then three and so on.
- Get a partner. Find someone to join you in your habit. The obligation of not letting someone else down will make you more likely to stick to it. The other person will also help you stay accountable. If you want to start running every lunchtime, get someone else to join you too.
Making new habits isn’t always easy – but it’s worth it. By using some of these tricks you can increase your chances of success.