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! Working out every day for a month, won't be enough to see any change in your body!
It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one major effort and underestimate the impact of making small improvements on a daily basis. Too often, we are impatient and expect that one massive action will lead us to our goal. Whether it is losing weight, building a business or winning a competition, we want to make some immediate improvement. This is often overwhelming and disappointing. Starting with 5 minutes every day, can be far more impactful, especially in the long run. It will keep you going and slowly but steady becomes a regular habit, which you don't want to miss anymore.
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." If you love what you do, you will enjoy the process and success will follow automatically.
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.
Repeat your habit. Again. Repeat it until you’re comfortable. Repeat it until you do it automatically. Repeat it until you miss it if you miss it. Repeat it as if your life depended on it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
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. What you do in small
Start to change your lifestyle and eat one unhealthy meal less, if your goal is losing weight.
Implement a training plan into your life, and start running three times a week, if your longterm goal is to run a marathon.
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?