A habit is something that you repeatedly do until it becomes a routine, a normal part of your existence.
Since it is ingrained in your system, letting go of a habit, or just the thought of changing it, seems impossible.
For me recently I wanted to go to the gym more. The only available time I had was in the morning.
I would set my alarm for 5 a.m. Then, come the next day, I would have the hardest time getting out of bed.
The thought of getting up and getting ready was such a daunting task even though it sounded so simple the day before. I was failing before I even got started.
Determined to succeed at going to the gym and change my habit of snoozing, I did some research and found three simple tips that I am going to share with you.
1. Say Your Goals Out Loud
Write your goal down on a piece of paper, place it where you will see it every day and say it out loud.
There is something about saying it out loud that converts the goal from thinking to doing. For me, I placed my goal on a post-it on my mirror so I would see it every morning.
2. Activation Energy
Activation energy is the spark we need to overcome inertia and kick-start a positive habit according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
The trick here is to lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt and raise it for habits you want to avoid.
Say you want to create a habit of preparing your own meals but you don’t have the time. Look for recipes that can be done in 20 to 30 minutes tops.
Pasta dishes can be cooked in 15 minutes! You may also cook two or three dishes in one weekend and microwave it during workdays.
For my goal of going to the gym I would sleep in my gym clothes with my shoes right next to the bed. That way when the alarm went off all I had to do is get up, put on my shoes and head out the door.
When it takes less effort to do the activities that you’ve been putting off for the longest time, chances are you will be more likely to do it.
When you have finally incorporated said tasks into your daily or weekly routine, it becomes a habit you can’t easily shrug off anymore.
So you have written down the habit you want to inculcate. You have also devised ideas on how to go about it with the least possible effort needed from you. What is next?
The last step is to tell someone that you trust about your goal and ask him or her to keep you accountable.
If you keep your goals to yourself, there’s always the possibility to slide back into old habits because you are not accountable to anyone but yourself.
A friend could say “no” to your pleas of eating out or having food delivered whenever you feel like ditching the kitchen job. A gym buddy who wouldn’t accept any lame excuses why you can’t join him in the gym is someone you need to keep you going.
Anyone who has the sincere intention of helping you develop these positive habits, or break away from negative ones, would be a great ally to have beside you as you journey towards being a better version of yourself.
My mom was my accountability partner because we went to 5:30am spin together. She would call me to make sure I was still going, and on days that I missed, she would follow-up to see what happened.
The steps are simple, but you will need to put in the work to make the magic happen. As you develop one good habit after another with this simple process, you will discover that it will get easier over time. Good luck!