7 Tips for Building Solid Habits
I think of habits as building blocks for goals.
Your life is largely made up of your habits, so it's important to have the tools for building the habits you want, that create a life that you desire.
I've been consciously building habits that support the life I want for over six years, and they have made a huge difference for me - saving me time and money, helping me reach goals that I never thought were possible, and supporting the growth of my relationship.
Here are a few tips for building habits that have been most helpful for me:
1. Start small
Like, REALLY small. Nothing is too small. If it's a new habit, especially if you're feeling challenged around creating any new habits at all, make it as easy as possible. Meditating for five minutes. Just putting on your exercise clothes and setting up your mat. Meal prepping just breakfasts, or just snacks, or just for one day per week.
2. Only try to build one habit at a time
Even adding a small habit can be a big life shift, so even if you're building it in increments (going from just putting on your workout clothes on every day, to doing some light exercise or yoga for ten minutes, to doing 30 minutes 3x/week), try to just focus on one new habit per month at the most, especially if you're just starting out.
3. Create a habit trigger
This is the thing that you will do right before you do your habit. So, for me my trigger for journaling is getting on the bus in the morning. I get on the bus and open my journal. My trigger for working out is getting up, putting on my workout clothes, and drinking my lemon water/taking my vitamins. Then it's time to set out my mats and press play. You already have plenty of triggers - you may always brush your teeth right after eating breakfast, or follow the same shower routine. Use it to your advantage. The less you have to think about it, the easier it will be.
4. Create a habit that will work for your life
It doesn't have to be hard to fit in - in fact, it shouldn't be. If you have to go out of your way to get to the gym, you may just never end up going, whereas if it's on your way to or from work (or you work out at home) it will be a lot easier. If you're trying to food prep Sunday evenings when you usually have other plans, it may just not going to happen. Figure out something that you can create time/space for, that will be possible to fit into your life.
5. Find accountability
A coach, friend, partner, accountability partner, Facebook group, the app coach.me, the website stickk.com, whatever works for you. Accountability is HUGE. It's like a secret weapon that will help you to succeed in building your habit.
6. Plan ahead
Figure out what you're going to do before you do it. So, if it's Sunday night and you're supposed to be food prepping but you have no idea what you're going to make - it's probably not going to happen! Find a separate time to plan it out, go shopping, make a meal plan, find recipes, whatever you need to do.
If you want to exercise when you wake up, figure out what you're going to be doing, wearing, etc., the night before. Plan ahead so that when it's time to do your new habit, you already know what you're going to do and you're all set up for success.
7. Stay persistent
There's almost always a rush of energy at the beginning of a new habit, and then it drops off a week or three into your new routine. Keep going through that drop period! The energy will come back, but you will need to be persistent and re-commit every day. Remember your WHY - post it somewhere if it helps you remember why this habit is so important to you. If it's not important to you - why are you doing it? Use your accountability partner. Get through the dip, and your habit will eventually become something that you don't even have to think about.
And lastly, I'm throwing in a bonus tip! As someone who's addicted to checking things off of lists, this one makes the whole "building a new habit" thing much more fun for me.
8. Track your success!
Create a spreadsheet, use a website, or use one of the thousands of apps out there. The one I use right now is HabitBull.
Above all, be gentle on yourself. Forgive yourself. Re-define imperfection as your version of perfect.
The point isn't to be perfect in your new habit. The point is to change your life, and to create the life that you desire. Keep your mind on your goal, and it will be ten times easier!