Expert Advice with Sam Saggers 27/09/2016
If you’ve ever made a resolution only to have it fall victim to lost interest or simply the busyness of life, this article is for you.
The following 8 strategies can help you make those habits stick. For the best results, choose only those that strike a chord and leave the rest behind.
1. Figure out why your habit didn’t stick before
If you’ve tried to establish the same habit before, figure out what stopped you.
Was the timing off?
Did it interfere with something more important?
Or maybe you were simply at a place in your life where creating a new habit wasn’t as important as you thought it should be.
Once you know the reason why you were unable to create a lasting habit you’ll be better prepared to get different results this time.
2. Set small mini-goals
Research has shown that habits will stick better if our motive for creating them is intrinsic, however simply having the desire to create the habit isn’t a guarantee that it will happen.
Big, dramatic changes require a lot of mental effort. Set mini-goals to help.
Small, actionable steps, done regularly, will help your habit stick.
For example, if you’ve got a bad habit of paying your bills late because they get buried on your desk, set a mini-goal of setting aside a specific place where each new bill gets placed.
Next, you could set a reminder on your smartphone or calendar each payday to help you remember what’s due to be paid.
As you can see, each small task builds upon the other so that in time your new habit will become second nature.
3. Link with your current schedule
It’s easier to keep a habit if it is reinforced by existing ones.
Use the routine you now have in place to trigger your new habits.
For example, if you want to keep a cleaner home tie it to something you do every day, such as come home from work. Instead of saying “I will keep my house cleaner” say “when I get home and change clothes I’ll clean the living room.”
What you’re doing is tying a new habit you want to create to an existing habit that you already have.
4. Use a tracker
A visual representation of your habit building efforts can go a long way towards cementing the changes you’re making.
A quick search of the net will give you any number of tracking apps or, if you prefer, go “old school” and put pen to paper, marking off the days that you remember your habit.
5. Evaluate your habits
Think about your progress. Are you remembering more often than you’re forgetting?
If it’s a struggle, reconsider what you’re doing.
Perhaps your goal was too ambitious or you tried to start your new habit at a stressful or too busy time.
If you can, break down the habit into even smaller, bite size goals and begin again.
6. Put some “skin in the game”
One good way to ensure you remember to build your habit is by investing something that matters to you.
For example, you could give your friend a post-dated checque made out to a political candidate or charity that you despise, under orders that they are to send the checque only when you fail to establish your new habit.
Doing this means you’ve got at least two very motivating reasons to succeed; should you fail, you’ll be paying for something you hate and your friend will know you’ve failed.
7. Set up reminders
Use technology to help you stay on track.
Use your work computer and/or your smartphone to set up recurring reminders.
Include encouraging messages which revisit the reason(s) why you want to create your new habit.
For example, if you’re trying to get into the habit of living a healthier lifestyle, include fitness and/or healthy eating memes with your reminders to encourage you to stick to your plan.
8. Get some help
Enlist the aid of friends and/or family. Tell them your plans and have them ask about your progress on a regular basis.
If they have a similar goal you can partner with them so each of you can keep the other on target to build your new habit(s).
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