I have been there.
You’ve always wished to build a new habit.
But repetitive failures made you lose your hope.
Motivation keeps you going for the first couple of days. But in the long run, your failure becomes inevitable.
Do you wish to know why suck at building habits?
THE TYPICAL HABIT APPROACH
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.Will Durant
You decide to hit the gym every day for an hour. And you’re super pumped.
The first few days pass within a blink of an eye. But one fine day, you need to work on a huge project. So you end up staying late.
The next morning when your alarm tries to get you off your cosy bed, you kill it without a second thought. And you skip the gym.
This happens for the first few days.
Days turn to months and your idea of sticking to the habit is long gone.
Think about it.
Is habit-building that hard?
Is my way of building habits wrong?
Did you set a huge goal for the last habit? And you tried way too hard, but failed.
Maybe that’s where the problem resides.
Would you like to know the “secrets” of building habits?
80% of success is showing upWoody Allen
Consistency is the most important thing when it comes to building habits.
Working out for an hour a day may sound dazzling. But have you ever considered how far it’s practical?
Imagine yourself coming back from your office after a long day at work. Your boss shouts at you, your car breaks down, you ram into the vehicle before you unintentionally. You reach home and your kid comes pestering you to take him to the ice cream shop, but you could barely move an inch.
Now, will you be willing to work out an hour?
Having unrealistic and big goals is the best way to set yourself up for failure.
Because life is one damn bitch that comes in the way and we can do nothing about it.
“Then do you suggest any other way?”
Have small goals, like meditating for a minute or doing ten push-ups.
This may sound pretty simple and worthless but I will back up science to prove this.
If you have gone to middle school then you might know about this apple-guy called Newton and his three laws.
Objects in rest or motion tend to stay in the same state unless an external force is applied to them.Sir Issac Newton
This statement applies to build habits too. The act of deciding to do something is much harder than the act itself.
Your brain is designed to protect you from all the hardships. So the brain hates the idea of going to the gym compared to bingeing Netflix or sleeping in.
You also have a daunting goal, an hour of intense workout which is something the brain doesn’t like at all.
So at some point, you will give up on the habit. But what if you wished to build a habit of doing just 10 push-ups every single day?
Doing 10 push-ups a day is easy.
Getting your fat ass off the couch is far harder than doing 10 push-ups.
Set minimal goals so that skipping a day becomes an embarrassment to you.
If you had an awesome day you might end up doing an intense workout for half an hour.
And if you had a hectic day, no problem you cannot fail to find 2–3 minutes to do 10 push-ups.
By the end of the year, you would have done at least 3,650 push-ups. But with the former approach, it is most likely that you would have quit within the first few weeks.
What’s right for me?
Good habits are worth being fanatical about.John Irving
How do you know how much of a habit is right for you?
Ask yourself these questions
How hard do you find it to hit the gym 5 times a day?
Rate it on a scale of 1–10.
1 being hardest and 10 being the easiest.
Now if you give 7 or anything below 7, lower down the goal.
How do you find it difficult to hit the gym 3 times a week
“Hmm…maybe a 6”
How difficult do you find it to hit the gym only once a week?
“Yeah, that’s fucking easy, Anybody could it. I give it a 9”
Now follow this sincerely.
It doesn’t matter how many times a week you hit the gym when you are trying to build a habit. Start small and build up from there.
Ask yourself these questions from time to time when things become easy.
The 5-second rule:-
Let’s assume you had a hectic day at work. You find doing 10 push-ups to be a daunting task. How would do get your ass off the couch and start working out?
Follow the 5-second rule.
When we hate to do something, we come up with all sorts of excuses, I am tired, my gym clothes are wet.
They are crappy excuses. But, we come up with these excuses only after 5 seconds.
Our goal is to take advantage of this five-second window.
Count down from 5. As you hit zero, just do the work, no more thinking or procrastinating.
Though this rule depends on your will power it becomes much easier when you start.
The 2-day rule:-
You have another hectic day at work. You try to get up and do ten push-ups but you could barely move an inch. And you wish to skip today’s workout. What do you do?
Introducing the 2-day rule. This rule states that you can skip a day of your habit but not two days in a row.
If you failed to work out yesterday, then you’re obliged to do it today regardless of your feelings.
But if you’ve been consistent for the past 2 weeks and wish to take a break. You could take one but you have no other choice but to workout tomorrow.
This rule helps you stay consistent with your habits and take intentional breaks.
The Chaining rule:
Use well-established habits to build new ones.
You have many well-established habits, brushing in the morning, having dinner etc…
Now we use these habits as cues to establish new habits.
Say, you wish to build the habit of reducing your screen time.
Start small by not taking your phones to the dinner table. Focus on the food you eat. Develop from there.
I wanted to meditate for at least a minute a day. But I found it difficult to install such a simple thing in my life. This is what I did.
Every day, as soon as I wake up, I close my eyes and meditate for a minute. Only then I do any other task.
This way we can make the process of habit building effortless.
Habits which could improve your lives
I bet you are probably thinking about building new habits, here is a list you could begin with,
- Read more books
- Eat healthily
- Sleep 8 hours a day
- Reduce screen time
- Drink more water
- Worry less
- Work on a passion project
Pick up one habit and try following it for 30 days. Challenge yourself.
After all, life is one series of experiments. Find what works for you.
The above suggestions is not just limited to working out and can be applied to all range of habits. Find out what works for you. 🙂