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We all want to achieve more. We all want to fit more time into the day. We want to eat healthier, exercise more, be more charitable, make more money, and be happier.
But we don't do it.
Well, it's really hard to break old habits, and it's even harder to keep new ones.
How many times have you gone to bed at night and said to yourself, “Tomorrow's a new day, I'm going to start running 5 days a week in the morning before work.”
But by the time tomorrow morning rolls around, you just don't feel like it. “I'll wait just one more day” you tell yourself.
Or maybe you eat a gigantic cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake just before seeing a really bad reflection of yourself in the Burger King window pane.
“Starting tomorrow, I'm going to only eat salads for lunch, and cut out fast food, completely.”
But by the time dinner rolls around the next day, you're super hungry, tired from work, and somehow a 12 piece chicken Mc Nuggets ends up on your lap.
Don't even get me started on trying to do more work every day. I recently found out that I only do 2 hours of work before 5:00 PM.
So how do we start a new habit and stick to it?
Here are some tips I've come up with. Many are easier said than done, but hey, good advice is good advice, right? I'm not saying that I have implemented all of these successfully, but I AM currently trying them out to make some positive changes to my personal and professional life.
4 Ways To Start (And Keep) New Habits That Work for Me
1) Write it down and put it somewhere you can see
Honestly, I miss out on a lot of these awesome new habits I think up because I just forget them. I've been on diets before where halfway through eating whatever it was that I wasn't supposed to be eating I suddenly remembered, “Oh yeah, I'm not supposed to eat that.”
Same thing with organizing time. Before I go to bed at night I tell myself I'm going to do such and such task tomorrow but lo and behold, the next day in the morning, I'm my typical groggy self, crawling for that first cup of coffee, checking my stocks, and it's 11:00 AM before I realize I'm already behind.
From time to time I am more reliable, and it's almost always due to writing it down on a whiteboard or piece of paper in an obvious place (not stuffed in a drawer or in a random place on a huge notepad).
Write it down so you can see it. Remember it. Then do it.
2) Set small goals
One of the biggest killer of goals is reaching too high. I know, bla bla shoot for the moon and even if you miss you'll land among the stars. Sometimes that's true. But many times is ends up being, “Reach for the stars and you'll be pissed off because no one can actually reach them.”
Set small, simple achievable goals and work your way up. For example, many people start out in online business thinking that you can get a full time income in a matter of weeks. It does happen occasionally, but mostly there's a lot of disappointed people wondering what they did wrong.
It's the same thing with dieting. Tell yourself you're going to quit soda cold turkey, or go vegan after this weekend. You'll likely quite after a couple days or weeks. Work towards a larger goal in smaller steps and it's very likely that you'll be able to make the change permanently, albeit over a longer period of time.
The feeling of achievement goes a long way in the world of motivation. Motivate yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back, then keep moving.
3) Don't be an ‘all or nothing' person
This is one that I have pulled off successfully many times. It's very common for someone to ‘fall off the wagon', or have an ‘off day', then decide that all is lost because they broke their streak. What's the point of going on?
Just because you slipped doesn't mean you have to fall back to square one. No one is 100% perfect all the time.
Are you trying to quit smoking? You might think that not smoking for 2 months then smoking for a day makes you a smoker again. It doesn't. It makes you a non-smoker that smoked for a day. Just pick yourself up and start again tomorrow. One day, in the scheme of things, doesn't mean much.
It's the same thing with my content creation schedule. I set pretty large goals with regards to content production. I want to do X, Y, and Z every day. Sometimes I miss a day. But that doesn't mean I have to completely give up!
Simply leave it as a missed day, then start again the next. Quitting altogether doesn't solve any problems for anyone. The same principle can be applied to developing new habits.
4) Create a red button
Here's a very interesting video on self control from Dan Ariely (TED Talks). He talks about devising a way to force yourself to create new habits. Basically, if you can predict what your future self will be like, you can use your present self to trick that future (and lazier) version of yourself. Watch the video to find out what I mean by ‘red button'.
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