Humans are made of habits— good or bad. Habits play a significant part in everything you do, they alter your personality, productivity, priorities + more.
Gaining an understanding of how they work and how to alter habits, can give you massive control over your life.
In this article, we're going to uncover: how to stick to habits, some mistakes, few habits you can adopt and how to track your habit-progress
Building Sustainable Habits
It essentially boils down to motivating and convincing yourself enough to delay instant gratification ( and laziness)
Which is done by making the habit obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.
Making a habit obvious
Unless you clearly know what you're supposed to do, you will not do it. In my experience making anything vague leads to me procrastinating and that may be the case for your too.
For example, instead of making your habit, "I won't check social media before 5 PM", make it, "I won't check social media, even for work and on break, before 5 PM on all days except Sunday and Holidays"
Now there's no way to sneak out of it — which lazy people (me) tend to do. When there is an unclear thing to do, we find loopholes.
Making a habit attractive
Most habits, especially productive ones, will usually require a great deal of willpower which you, by default, don't want to give. So, you have to figure out a way to make it interesting enough for you.
How? Figure out how to tie in your new habit to something you already enjoy or hate.
For example, say you don't like cooking food, you can decide that if you don't break the 'no social media before 5' habit for a week, you can get take out on Sunday.
This is especially important for the early stages of building a habit.
Making a habit easy
You need to remove the friction of building a habit.
Anticipate the obstacles, and figure out a way to avoid them.
When you're trying to avoid social media, what could be the possible obstacles? The temptation to pick up your phone when bored, notifications and social media websites on your computer.
Have solutions to these obstacles, like keeping your phone in another room, disabling notifications, and getting a website blocker.
Making a habit satisfying
Humans are wired to get the most of what they can now and not wait for more down the line. In other words, we aren't wired for delayed gratification.
However, most habits don't have results that you can see in a few hours, it could take days, weeks, months, or years— depending on the habit.
To stay disciplined till you reap the results, you need to satisfy yourself with some other reward.
This links back to making it attractive— give yourself a reward for a job well done!
Habit Building Mistakes
Building habits can seem complicated and so we tend to make these 4 mistakes that can stop you from successfully building any habit.
These mistakes are, starting big, not planning for failure, not being accountable, and having no 'why'
If you start with a way too ambitious goal, as many of us tend to do, you're going to lose your
lag behind, lose your motivation and quit building the habit altogether.
Keep your initial habit-building goals small. Once you achieve them and are motivated, you can take it a step further.
Something Will Go Wrong
Can you think of the last time something went absolutely smoothly? Probably not. There are always problems in everything we do.
If you don't know how you're going to tackle problems that may arise when building a habit, you're likely not going to build one.
Again, you want to anticipate what can go wrong and solve for that.
You could also think about certain situations like being overwhelmed with work, not feeling motivated, etc. And what you will do regarding your habit in that situation
Get an accountability buddy
Staying self-disciplined for extended periods of time can be a tedious challenge and you could give up.
To change that, get an accountability buddy — choose a friend who is likely to check in with you every day and set up a punishment for you with them.
This could be something like giving your friend $100 every time you miss your goal. A pretty strong incentive to not miss it.
Or, you can try some habit trackers to help you stay accountable. Once you've established a chain or streak in the app, you're not likely to want to break it due to the 'don't break the chain' strategy. This is likely to keep you motivated.
Have A 'Why'
Staying motivated throughout building your habit is essential and if you don't have a strong reason to do so, you're not going to.
Hence, having a 'why' can go a long way in helping you stay motivated.
It has to be something you care about, not everyone else. Like not having social media till 5 will help your productivity, but do you care about simply increasing your productivity enough? or should you do it because increased productivity is likely to advance you professionally? The one you care about most should be your 'why'
How to track your habit-progress
The best way, in my opinion, to track your habits is to get a habit tracker — which has the side benefit of keeping you accountable.
Habit trackers are surprisingly simple to use and some of them can even be fun. I personally use Kin, but you could check out some other recommendations by Thomas Frank here.
What habits should you build?
Habits are highly personalized and dependent on your goals. However, I've listed a few below that you could consider, these will have a generally positive impact!
Clean up your digital and physical space once a week
Financial health check-up, every week or month
Reading/learning for Y hours everyday
Grateful Journaling everyday
Planning your day, everyday
No phone/social media till X o' clock
Psst, don't take up all habits at once— prioritize and pursue, or you'll get bogged down.
Hope this helped.