“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
— Jim Rohn
Achieving a goal often involves developing a new routine and sticking to it. Whether you want to eat healthier, workout more, or wake up earlier, you’ll have to turn your intentions into a habit.
Making changes to your schedule can often feel unsettling and inconvenient. Did you know that habits make up more than 40% of the actions we take every single day? They emerge through associative learning. Finding patterns of behavior allows us to reach goals. We repeat what works, and when actions are repeated in a stable context, we form associations between cues and response. It can feel uncomfortable and even daunting to implement new habits (and break poor ones) and it’s easy to make excuses about why you have to break your habit.
So why build new habits? Because the right habits have the power to:
Help you reach your goals
Help you become the person you want to be
Allow you to help people around you
Increase the overall quality of your life
Help you reap lifelong benefits
“We are our own potter; for our habits make us, and we make our habits.”
How to Build New Habits
1. Start Small
If your goal is to run regularly, you’re not going to run a marathon this weekend. Break your goal down into increments. For example, if you want to run a marathon and you’re not much of a runner, try running two miles a day three days a week and build up from there. If you try and do too much, you will most likely fail and destroy your morale. Be patient, start small, and build up your progress.
2. Know Your Excuses
What gets in the way of this habit? Are you making excuses because you’re tired? Or you’ve run out of time? Did you forget to pack your gym clothes again? Whatever habit you’re failing to form, consider what is preventing your success. Once you nail down your usual excuses, you can address them.
3. Enable Your New Habits
Make sure you set yourself up for success. If you keep ordering out at work because you forgot your lunch, pack it the night before. Enable your habits by addressing your usual excuses and obstacles and preparing for success.
4. Don’t Fear Failure
Everyone fails and at some point, you will experience this as well when you are building good habits. That’s okay! Whether you cheat on a diet, skip a work out, or fail to pack your lunch, it’s important to acknowledge it and get back on track as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid of setbacks: keep working at it.
5. Keep Track of Habits
What gets measured gets managed. If you’re trying to drink more water, for example, you may keep track of your water intake throughout the day to stay on track. Measure your progress to stay motivated as you work towards your goal.
“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
— John C. Maxwell
Looking for new habits to form? Check out my list of powerful habits below!