Skip to main content

How to restart a habit

 


Until June this year I had a great morning routine. I'd get up, have a large glass of water, do my exercise routine, meditate, write in my bullet journal and work on one of my blogs. I had been sticking to these habits for well over a year without any problem. I'd never miss more than one day in a row, and even that was rare. These were solid habits and they made me happier and healthier. This was a well ingrained routine. 

Then in June I got sick. For two months I wasn't well enough to do my normal morning routine, so I stopped. It wasn't a conscious decision, I just wasn't able to exercise or meditate. I also wasn't waking up at the same time. Slowly, I got better and better and now three months later I am feeling back to normal. My morning routine however did not return to normal. As I started waking up at my usual time again I fell in to a lazy routine of getting up and just surfing the internet.

What happened to me is not unusual. Many people develop strong routines and then an unplanned life event comes along and their well formed habits disintegrate. So how do you restart a habit?

Decide to restart

The first step in restarting a habit is recognizing you have stopped doing your habit and making the decision to restart. When you stop doing a good habit it usually happens without realizing, its a gradual and subtle process. To restart you need to make a big deliberate decision to restart. Remember why you used to do the habit. Remember the benefits of doing the habit. Once you make the decision to restart the habit, find a way to practice it the same day.

(Re)start small

Don't expect to pick up right where you left off. If you were running 4 miles a morning when you stopped, its unlikely you will be able to do that right off the bat. Start by running a mile Heck, start even smaller, put your running gear on and walk half a mile. Make it so small you can't not do it. Make it small enough that you are bound to succeed. There is no such thing as "too small." You can (and should) build it up over time. Anything is better than nothing though. And the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. 

Pick a reminder

The habit loop of reminder, routine, reward starts with the reminder. Try using the same reminder as before. If that isn't effective you may need to pick a slightly different reminder. For some people as soon as they see the old reminder the old habit kicks in. For other people the old reminder might have become too familiar and not as effective. In that case pick something different. Everyone is different. See what works for you. If the old reminder doesn't work the first day, pick a new reminder the very next day.

Track your progress

Tracking the days you do your habit can be a tremendous motivator. It shows you that you are actually making progress. Particularly starting out this can be huge. Also,as you get further along you get in your habit if you start thinking about stopping, seeing all the progress can motivate you to continue because you don't want to waste all the hard work you have put in. Sometimes the sunken cost fallacy can be a good thing!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Be Happy. Go For A Good Walk.

One of the best ways to boost your happiness is to get in to the habit of going for a Good Walk.


How to change your eating habits and lose weight

The top New Years Resolution year after year is to lose weight. The first tactic people usually try when losing weight is to start exercising. Going for a 30 minute run will burn about 400 calories. That’s about the same amount of calories as a single donut. You can’t outrun your plate! Exercise has a whole host of benefits but contributing to weight loss for most people is not one. If you want to lose weight you are going to have to change your eating habits. Habit 1. Drink more water.
People often confuse thirst with hunger. If you think you are hungry get in to the habit of drinking a glass of water and waiting 20 minutes. If you are still hungry then, go for it. As an added bonus, having a glass of zero calorie water in your stomach will help you feel full sooner.

Habit 2. Get enough sleep.
People often make up for having low energy because they are tired by eating. Make sure you go to bed at a time that gives you eight hours of sleep. Sticking to a consistent bedtime seven days a we…

What is WOOP and how can it help me achieve my goals?

WOOP is a science based mental strategy people can use to fulfill their wishes, set preferences and change their habits. The technique is based on 20 years of research and was developed by psychologist Gabriele Oettingen. The scientific name for it is Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions. Mental Contrasting is the concept comparing your future wish with your current reality. Implementation Intentions are the practice of deciding in advance what you will do in a given situation. 
WOOP is short for:
W - Wish. O - Outcome. O - Obstacles. P - Plan.
WISH The first step is to name a wish that is challenging but feasible. Set a time frame for the wish. Ask yourself if the wish is dear to you and if it's challenging yet achievable. Once you are done, note it down in 3 - 6 words. Pause and really picture it in your head.
For example: I want to exercise more.
OUTCOME Then think about the very best outcome and imagine it. What would the biggest benefit to achieving your wish be? How would…