Happy 2018, everyone!!!Hope you welcomed the year in the grandest way possible. We are a few days into the New Year (well, two days if we’re being very specific) and it’s time that we look forward and marvel at the many opportunities that await us. I had recently published posts about some possible habit resolutions for 2018. Today, we’ll look at some reasons why we find it difficult to make habits stick and then I’ll give you some tips that will help you with it.As always, if you need any clarification or have any feedback, leave those in the Comments below. If you found the article helpful, hit Like.As English writer Samuel Johnson rightly said,”The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”Adopting and sticking to habits is hard because we are already in the habit of doing the opposite or not doing it at all. OK. That went round and round but there’s a point in there somewhere.As it is, we are not conscious of when we perform a habit; we seldom notice it until we snap out of and see the pack of chocolate chip cookies we were munching on after deciding never to do that again. Think about the last time you checked your social media? You probably just did it or you are doing it as you read this.So, what goes wrong? Why can’t we make them stick?You just don’t want to do it. We often adopt habits that we feel are something we need because someone said we do. It could be that you work better into the night rather than early in the morning. So deciding to wake up early in the morning may not be your thing and you wouldn’t stick with the habit.You tend to procrastinate. This could be regardless of whether you like the habit or not. A new habit is hard work and as I mentioned in a previous post, we have a metaphorical monkey in our brain that wants us to do things that are fun and easy. As a result, we tell ourselves, “I’ll do it tomorrow” and postpone.You give up. Old habits are hard to break; you can’t stop or start doing something cold turkey. As discussed earlier, if it’s having to wake up earlier than usual, you can’t just start doing that. You gradually get to a point when you can get up that early without feeling sleepy the rest of the day. You have to take it slow. The trouble with that is it will test your patience and you just give up.So, how does it all work? Charles Duhigg, in his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business talks about three parts to a habit loop.Cue: This is the trigger that tells your brain it’s time for a habit.Routine action: This is the action you take when you are presented with the cue.Reward: A satisfied feeling in your brain after performing the habit.Rinse and repeat and voila, a habit is born. You may or may not want to keep it, but it’s yours.How to Make Habits StickAnalyse your habit loop: You have to understand why you perform a habit in order to decide whether to keep going with it or not.Let’s say you drink a lot of coffee, once in the morning, then in the afternoon, then in the evening and so on. What’s the cue? You’re drowsy. What’s your routine? You drink coffee. What’s the reward? You feel alert again. Now, how do you change that habit? Start by putting your coffee things as far away from you as possible or at least make it difficult for you to get to it. That’ll disrupt your routine enough for you to do consider other options like doing 10 pushups or going up and down the stairs or splash some water on your face.Don’t make excuses: If you’ve decided to do workout every day, then workout every day. Don’t say things like “I have a lot of work to do” or “I’m too tired” or “It’s raining” or “Jupiter is ahead of Saturn”. No! No excuses ever. You’ll regret it the next day. So, stick to your original plan.Take a break: You don’t have to perform your habit every day. You can choose how often you want to do it. Give yourself a break. Even if it is once a week, it’s fine. Decide that you’ll do it on that day no matter what happens.Eliminate distractions: If you’ve decided to not drink coffee every time you feel drowsy, then don’t buy more coffee and stock up. If you’ve decided to watch less TV, maybe unsubscribe from Netflix and Amazon Prime. If you’ve decided to read more, buy more books and throw out your TV (metaphorically, not literally). Write it down: Write down your habits on sticky notes and stick it on your mirror in the bathroom and on your dressing table mirror and on the door so you see it on your way out and on your laptop and on your phone and … well, you get my drift. Write it down though.Track your habits:Bullet Journal: I had published a post about journalling earlier. You could track your habits in your journal. Draw up habit trackers and check those off as you achieve your daily goal.Tracker app: Alternatively, you could use apps on your phone to track your habits. Here are some options for you.Productive – Habit Tracker for iOS.Habitica: Gamify Your Tasks for Android. This is a lot of fun. You maintain an amazing habit streak and you can collect weapons and go on quests and other adventures. Loop – Habit Tracker for Android. This is a very simple interface. You write up your habits and check it off if you perform them every day.Reward yourself: The key to any habit is the reward. Let’s take the coffee example. Your reward for using an alternative to coffee was feeling alert for longer. Focus on that. Or maybe you read four books this month. Reward yourself with some chocolate or an ice cream or a couple of chocolate chip cookies. You can test and see what reward works best for you.It’s not easy but you can make it happen. I’ll leave you with this inspirational quote by Lewis Howes, a former American football player,”I have learned that champions aren’t just born; champions can be made when they embrace and commit to life-changing positive habits.”
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