We become what we repeatedly do.― Sean Covey, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens
What we repeatedly do = our habits.
However, it is so easy to pick up the bad ones and so damn hard to stick to the good ones. Why so?
It’s easy to go for junk food but having a fruit every day is something you need to make yourself do by force.
It’s easy to sit on the couch all day but working out 30 minutes a day is tough.
It’s so simple to scroll on your phone for hours but 10 minutes of meditation feels like a task!
Need I say more?
The real reason why forming good habits is hard
The keyword is reinforcement.
Bad habits produce immediate reinforcement but good habits don’t.
For example: When you eat junk food it gives you instant gustatory pleasure and stress release. However, if you have a fruit the benefits are hidden/ take longer period of time to show. You might get glowing skin but after having that fruit for 30 days. That’s a long waiting period.
What I am saying is, it takes weeks, months or even longer for good habits to show us results and we want instant gratification.
Hence, we have a hard time forming good habits not because we lack self-discipline but mostly because we are biologically prone to repeat behaviours based on instant results, be it physical, social or emotional.
Goals are not habits
James Clear has made this clear already but I just wanted to say this again.
If you write a list of your goals and it sounds somthing like this:
- Read for 10 minutes every day.
- Meditate for 10 minutes every day.
- Exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week.
then there is a clear problem.
These are NOT goals. These are steps you take to achieve your goals. These are habits.
I will write in my journal from monday.
I will go to gym starting next month.
I will eat healthy after weekend.
Sounds familiar? It’s most of us. We tell ourselves these little lies and go on and on with our lives. Sometimes getting frustrated that why aren’t we able to start something good, sometimes telling ourselves that this new habit isn’t for us.
How to start building good habits and make them stick
First of all, you need a “WHY”.
Why to start a habit? For this you need an end goal.
Generally, the end goals fall into one of these categories:
- Better health both physical and mental
- More money
- Good social relationships
These are the 3Ps of goals: Physical , personal and professional.
For each goal that you have, there is a tiny little habit that you can build to get a step closer to it.
But as we already know good habits don’t show immediate results and so we drop them left, right and center even before we know it. So, how to make reinforcement for good habits a thing?
Here are few things that you can do 👇🏼
1. Start small
Take a tiny step. You want to write a book? Write 5 sentences everyday for a month.
Want to go full on journaling? Start with one line a day.
Want to make workout a lifestyle? Start with 5-10 minutes a day.
As I say, one mindful minute a day is all you need before doing that 30 minutes long meditation.
2. Find your blockers
The way you need to know why you need to start a habit, same way you also need to know why you can’t do a particular thing.
Say your end goal is to write a book but you are unable to write 5 sentences each day then ask yourself why is it so? Possibly, the genre you’re going for is not something that truly interests you. In this case, you need to give yourself freedom and maybe use various prompts (you can find so many on Pinterest) to know what do you like writing the most.
Once you have your answers, it will become easy to continue.
3. Use trackers
I never thought I needed trackers. I also never thought that trackers would motivate me. But streaks, daily health goals on my watch, my diary entries – All of these things are super helpful. Why? Because they show my progress or they show possibilities.
4. The backup plan
We all have failed at something and we are going to fail in the future as well. That’s how life is. So even though you want to do a certain thing every day, you might not be able to do it.
What to do when you miss a day? Make sure you don’t miss two in a row or three.
5. Don’t be hard on yourself
You are human. You are allowed to fail. You have come so far and you don’t have to beat yourself up for slipping once in a while. You can always start again.
How are habits and JOMO connected?
The reason you want to miss out on things that don’t serve you is to have more time to do things that do serve you.
And good habits serve you well.
JOMO means you don’t compare yourself to others and do your own thing. That ‘your own thing” better be something that helps you become a better version of yourself.
Am I right or am I right?
I am not asking you to hustle, I am asking you to do things that make you a better you 🙂
So, what’s a new good habit that you are cultivating these days?
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