You promise yourself to wake up early every morning. You even maintain that routine for a week or two, getting your days a perfect start at five. But soon things start falling apart. And now you’re back with the same routine – on the bed till 9, running late to your class or office.
Good habits are the cornerstone of a successful and happy life. They are the calm in our chaos. But they are also difficult to build.
You sure can decide to wake up early in the morning, get in shape, study harder, or work on your side hustle after office hours. But keeping up on such rather impulsive resolutions with commitment and consistency is not easy.
But then this doesn’t mean you let bad habits control your life. There are certain things you can do to build and sustain your new habits permanently.
Here are five tips to make your new habits last for life:
1. Do not pick unrealistic habits
“I will never eat pizza and eat only healthy food” – you know that’s not possible when pizza is your favorite.
“I will spend 2 hours in cardio every day” – this won’t last long if you have never done cardio in your life.
Point is, when starting, so many people chase unrealistic habits. And this has two flaws to it: one, that new habit will never last; two, failing to keep up with that habit will get you too demotivated to even try the next time.
So, avoid picking unrealistic habits that are just not possible because there are literal limitations in your time, energy, built, lifestyle and more.
2. Progressive changes are better than radical ones
New habits become permanent easily if implemented progressively over the course of months and years and not days and weeks.
So, avoid planning for radical changes in life. Such decisions never last longer.
If you wake up nine in the morning, instead of radically planning to get up at five tomorrow, at the initial stages, aim for eight, seven, six and then five.
Similarly, if you’re in the bad habit of eating junk foods, you cannot entirely change that from tomorrow. Instead, aim to exclude one bad food item a day/week from your meal; replace them with their healthier alternatives.
A progressive approach in adopting newer habits will make the entire process much easier and convenient for you.
3. Get a “habit building buddy”
Losing weight, studying harder, not complaining and taking up other positive habits becomes so much fun and easier when you’re doing it with your best friend.
So, get yourself a “habit building buddy”. They could be anyone – your friends or family members.
Having them by your side through the changes you’re looking for will keep you motivated. To that, it would also add that competitive feeling, which will further positively fuel your motivation.
4. Plan (and plan thoughtfully)
A decision made impulsively, eventually fails, once your emotions start simmering down.
Recall the last time when someone made a negative remark on your health and you felt pumped to change that. That feeling eventually settled, did it not?
Or the time you got bad grades in your tests and you pledged to do better in the next semester. That feeling faded soon, right?
That’s because when you’re looking to make big changes in life, it demands you to be strategic in your undertaking. Meaning, you need to have a thorough plan.
So, the new habits you’re hoping to adopt, make sure you have a proper plan of how you’re going to do that. Create that plan around that “how” with multiple milestones on way to let you measure your progress.
5. Focus on the rewards and not obstacles
Yes, it’s going to be difficult. Yes, you will find it painful and uncomfortable. However, the benefits of the new habits far outweigh the obstacles you’re going to face. And this is something you must remind yourself regularly.
So many people focus too much on the obstacles that kill their enthusiasm and negatively shape their overall approach.
The mornings you don’t “feel” like waking up – remind yourself why you have to.
The days you’re craving for your favorite, non-healthy food – remind yourself why you should not eat that.
Those days when you’re tempted to let go your new and positive habits – remind yourself why you’re doing it in the first place.
It takes 21 days to take up new habits.
Although that idea is often refuted and called a “myth”, the underlining thesis is simple: if you’re doing the same thing for a long period, it will eventually become a habit – a regular part of your lifestyle. It will come off easy.
So, whatever habits you’re trying to build and make a permanent part of your lifestyle, continue with your efforts for a few weeks. It will become permanent.