Why is it so hard to stick to new habits?
One of the core reasons, why it is so hard to build new habits, that last is the delayed result. It needs time, consistency, and patience for a powerful outcome! “I’ve been working out every day for a month, so why can’t I see any change in my body?”
It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Too often, we convince ourselves that success requires massive action. Whether it is losing weight, building a business, winning a championship, or achieving any other goal, we put pressure on ourselves to make some immediate improvement that everyone will talk about. This is overwhelming, and you don't know where and how to start. Starting with 5 minutes every day, can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. It will keep you going and slowly but steady becomes a habit, which can be improved.
Often we dismiss small changes because they don’t seem to matter very much in the moment. If you save a little money now, you’re still not a millionaire. If you start going to the gym three times in a week, you’re still out of shape. It also works the opposite way, if you eat one unhealthy meal, the scale won't go up. But when we repeat small errors and bad habits, day after day, our small choices compound into bad results. It’s the accumulation of many bad habits and wrong steps. Success is the product of daily habits and not huge once‐in‐a‐lifetime transformations.
Forget about goals - focus on the process instead
If you're an athlete and want to win the world championship, you want to focus on your habits, training, nutrition, recovery, and not primarily on the outcome. The only thing you can influence is your daily action towards your end result. What you really need to do is to get better step by step, the outcome is the result of your daily work. Goals are good for setting a direction, but the process is where you make the progress, "the journey is the reward."
What can you do to incorporate new habits?
First and foremost your goal has to be attractive for you, only then it will be motivating. Motivation is what drives you toward a goal, what keeps you going when things get tough, the reason you get up early to exercise or work late to finish a project.
Find like-minded friends. If you find someone with similar goals (running, dieting, finances, etc.), see if they’d like to partner with you. Or partner with your girlfriend, sibling or colleague on whatever goals they’re trying to achieve. Challenge, push and encourage each other, that will help you to keep going.
Make it visible
Print out your goal in big words. Make your goal just a few words long, like a mantra e.g. Exercise 15 mins. Daily, and post it up on your wall or refrigerator. Put it on your home screen on your mobile phone or computer. Or if you want to read more, put a book on your coffee table or your bedside table as a reminder. If you want to drink more water, put a bottle of water on your table next to your computer. You want to have big reminders about your goal, to keep your focus and keep your excitement going.
For every little step along the way, celebrate your success, and give yourself a reward. It helps to write down appropriate rewards for each step, so that you can look forward to those rewards. By appropriate, I mean it’s proportionate to the size of the goal (don’t reward going on a 1-mile run with a luxury cruise in the Bahamas); if you are trying to lose weight, don’t reward a day of healthy eating with a dessert binge. It’s self-defeating.
Sometimes it’s hard to accomplish something alone. Join an online forum, take a class or get a coach. These will motivate you to at least show up, and to take action. A coach will not only motivate you but also support you to find strategies that work for you and activate the necessary resources in order to succeed.
Big goals - small steps
Start somewhere and progress step by step. Make a change in your lifestyle and don't change your life.
Losing 20 kg would be life-changing, eating more healthy foods is a change in your lifestyle.
Running a marathon would be life-changing, running three times a week is a new lifestyle.
All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. Go for it and enjoy your new lifestyle, you deserve it!
Do you want to learn more about how to stay motivated in order to achieve your goals?