One Powerful Tip For When You Feel Like Giving Up on Your New Habit

by Henrik Edberg

Keep on keeping on
Image by tbondolfi (license).

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“First we make our habits, then our habits make us.”
Charles C. Noble

“Good habits, once established are just as hard to break as are bad habits.”
Robert Puller

Changing a habit can be hard. To make the habit stick you have to keep going until it becomes not something you do through willpower but something you feel drawn to doing. This can take 30 days or more of taking action each day.

But we all have bad days. What do you do on such a day when you just feel like giving up on creating this new habit?

Here’s what I do.

I say to myself: Just for today!

It is important to make yourself realize that the period that you are investing in changing a habit is not the rest of your life.

As mentioned above, if you do something every day for 30 days then that will become a habit and you will feel drawn to doing it or just do it automatically. So it is not about forcing yourself to do this thing on willpower for the next few decades.

Brian Tracy has a great little phrase that makes it easier to take action and just focus on it for today. Tell yourself:

“Just for today I will XX!”

Replace XX with what you will do just for today such as getting exercise, get going on the most important task first thing in the day or eating a healthy lunch.

You can take it one day at a time with this phrase until your habit becomes a natural part of your life, until it becomes something you feel drawn to doing.

I myself don’t use it every day. But I find it very helpful on those days when inner resistance causes me to not feel like continuing doing something until it becomes a habit. Such days are pretty much inevitable.

But by telling myself that I only have to do it today I release the mental burden of the past times I did it and future times when I will do it. And so the task becomes much lighter and the inner resistance melts away.

And guess what, when tomorrow comes I’ll have a good day again with less resistance and I will most likely feel like doing the task again. And that is how I handle a bad day when I am changing a habit.

What is your favorite tip for making it easier to change a habit?




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{ 21 comments }

Riley Harrison April 2, 2011 at 5:51 am

I find that written goals feel binding. As an example if I commit to weighing myself daily and posting it to a chart that’s conspicuous (for me that’s the back of my bathroom door), I will have no trouble adhering to my weight loss plan
Riley

Kary April 2, 2011 at 12:33 pm

This is great! I have battled breaking bad habits and forming new ones for most of my life. This strategy you share may create a break through in my world:)

Live Well / Be Well
Kary

Justin April 2, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I’m finding that it is much easier now for me to implement new habits than it was in the past. I just recently gave up coffee in order to have better sleep at night. It is day three and I am feeling much better physically, mentally, and emotionally without it.

YourFriendsToo April 2, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Good post Henrik, here is my tip,

On those days, I myself remember Tony Horton in P90X “Do your best and forget the rest” I love that phrase, you can apply it in every singles aspect of your life. Whether your concern is financial, relationship, or health wise, always doing your best is more than enough ;-)

Louis | Self Achiever April 3, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Habits are usually formed automatically, so it is difficult when we are actually trying to teach ourselves a new habit. Just for today is a great way to bring awareness & bring you back to the moment. As you state, a little per day goes a long way.

Jaky Astik April 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Breaking a habit is the hack. So, when you are creating a new habit, you are actually killing an old one. The Power of Positive Thinking, a book by Normal Vincent Peale, he said that when you are ready to throw yourself across the bar, God will help you out with your desires. That just means doing all you can to break the habit. A little goes a long way.

Hudson April 4, 2011 at 5:11 am

Great!

John Sherry April 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I use the ‘one’ method – move away from it via one step, one hour, one weekend, or following just one tip. I think it works when it’s one at a time as the mind doesn’t view one as a big number or a big task. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles…..

Henrik Edberg April 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm

That’s a really good one, I have to keep the one method in mind. Thank you for sharing!

Jaky Astik April 4, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I’ve found that observing yourself is the best way to break a habit. There are some times when the habit triggers and when that time faces you, all you have to do is get yourself busy with something.

Anonymous April 4, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Exactly, bite everything into manageable chunks. The problem is we try to change everything about ourselves too quickly and get frustrated when things don’t work out. If you have a habit or belief ingrained for years, it’s going to take time to wear it away. When you attack it piece by piece you see measurable gains which motivate you to continue further. Nice post :)

Anitha April 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm

You are absolutely right. I even heard about 21 day habit theory..
I tried a lot at same time i failed a lot. But i will try again.
Thanks for good post!

AE Thanh April 5, 2011 at 5:22 am

That’s a great tip Henrik. I think the key is to make it as easy as possible for you to keep your new habit going. Your tip is a great example of that.

Lauren @ MRS April 6, 2011 at 4:00 am

Thanks, I’ll try that tip on my weakest moments! What I suffer most from is actually breaking a habit, I’m a creature of habit, and sometimes it’s really not the best thing to be, especially for unflattering ones.

Henrik Edberg April 6, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Thank you all for adding your best tips for changing a habit to my article and making it more helpful!

Tanessa April 8, 2011 at 12:39 am

Just for today! It worked!

Counterfeit April 9, 2011 at 12:00 am

What a great tip. We tend to get overwhelmed by a difficult task. When I was trying to quit smoking, thinking that I could no longer smoke in the future made me sad. It seemed so hard to stop doing something for the rest of my life. So I had to change my mindset to just thinking that I would not smoke that single day. Eventually, the cravings went away.

Manni Manirath April 9, 2011 at 11:14 am

Hi friends – I too apply Brian Tracy’s trick of “Just for today” it definitely helps because it doesn’t make the task so overwhelming because it is “one step at a time”.

Something that I also teach my students is the principle of using “Pain vs Pleasure” as leverage. It is human nature to be more inclined to avoid pain rather than pursue the rewards of pleasure. But, if you can get both working for you, then you increase the probability of making changes for the better dramatically. Change can happen in a heartbeat – http://www.itallstartswithyou.net

Wizdumb April 11, 2011 at 7:44 am

This is a great article that is also inspirational. A few months ago, I had to get into the habit of taking yoga. I went to the first class and enjoyed myself; however, life took over and I did not attend class for another month. I finally convinced myself that I had to take time for myself, my spirit and my health and attend class consistently. It was hard to get into the habit but I’m a man of purpose and realize that self-discipline is a huge attribute for self-empowerment.

Each day is a new dawn and with that dawn comes new opportunities to better oneself. I rearranged things and found a way to get to class. Excuses prevent many of us from breaking bad habits or creating healthy habits. The norm is a comfortable place to some and outside the box is frightening. I hope that this article motivates others as it did for me.

Jussi April 26, 2011 at 11:22 am

It’s for today – one by one – step by step – little by little – it works!
Thank you Henrik!

Punita May 6, 2011 at 8:09 am

Thanks Henrik and others
Your one-day tip appears to be quite helpful to break the overawe of forming a new habit. Recently I read about exploring new hobbies and activities and how after that initial spurt of interest, things fizzle out and we lose out and come back more demotivated. Even it mentioned about the 30 day continuity which is important to instill and sustain interest and eventually form the habit. But to persist in this motto, the “one-day” tip appears to be the antidote.

Go with the flow and be happy…..

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