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How to Keep Creating a New Habit When You Feel Like Giving Up


A happier life today
Image by notsogoodphotography (license).

.Creating a new habit isn’t always easy. You often start out all enthusiastic and excited. But since you usually have to keep doing it every day for about 30 days or once a week for a whole lot of weeks to make the habit into something that sticks and feels natural it becomes harder after a while.

Life may interfere. Perhaps you get overwhelmed at work or at home. Maybe you go away for a vacation or a conference somewhere. Or maybe – because change is scary and could be harmful – your mind starts to create thoughts that that try to persuade you to quit this new and possibly positive change.

What to do then? Here are a few tips that help me to keep going on such tough days or to make smart decisions.

Just for today!

Here’s a little phrase I got from Brian Tracy that I often use when I’m having a bad day with a new habit. I say to myself: Just for today I will XX!

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

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.

Plus, it also reminds me that the period that I am are investing in changing a habit is not the rest of my life. After 30 days or so the habit will mostly be automatic so it is not something I have to do on willpower for the next few years or decades.

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.

Find inspiration quickly to change your mood and mind.

When you are having a rough day then go and find some inspiration and motivation to keep going. With the help of just 15-20 minutes of personal development CDs, mp3s, blog posts or a chapter or two in a book you can often change negative thoughts and feelings within into something more positive.

And so you’ll once again feel more motivated to keep going.

Nudge yourself back on track when you slip.

You’ll probably slip along the way. It’s natural to do so. If you can avoid doing so over the 30 days then that is good. If you slip then that is OK too. Don’t beat yourself up if you do. That will only causes more negativity within and you may feel like giving up altogether just because you made a small slip or mistake.

Instead, nudge yourself back on track the next day again. And then keep going with the thought in mind that is the smart choice to forgive yourself to make it easier to make this habit a sticky habit.

Take a break.

Maybe you simply need a break for a day or two. Then take it. But then nudge yourself back on track again. Do not let a small break become the end of this positive change.

Have a cheat day.

I found having a cheat day to be very helpful when I lost 26 pounds in the beginning of 2009. On Saturdays I was allowed to eat some of the unhealthy but delicious stuff I was sometimes craving during the rest of the week. This became a vent that helped me to release that inner pressure regularly.

Instead of letting it ramp up until I wolfed down way to much of the stuff I craved.

I still, most of the time at least, stick with eating candy or potato chips on Saturdays and it helps me to maintain my weight and to not allow old and bad habits to pop up again.

Quit.

Are you creating this habit because you truly want it? Or are you creating it because someone told you to or because so many people around you seem to have it or work on it?

Oftentimes when you create a new habit there will be thoughts and feelings of not wanting to work on the habit. This can, for example, come from feeling overwhelmed or tired or from the common drop in enthusiasm after a few weeks. Or from feeling bored with the habit from time to time. That is natural and can be overcome.

But if you have no passion or real interest personally to create this habit in the first place then it will be very hard or impossible to keep it up.

So if you feel like giving up or bored a lot, if you feel no real passion or excitement or curiosity about the habit then ask yourself the two questions above. Because then it may be time to quit doing this and to spend your time and energy on a habit you truly want to cultivate.

What you want isn’t easy to know before you get started though. And although, for example, the habit of jogging wasn’t something you really wanted to do doesn’t mean that you should give up on a habit of getting regular exercise. Try walking, biking, playing badminton or table tennis instead. Try a new habit and see if it is a better fit and more enjoyable for you.

Because if it fits you and your life and you truly enjoy it then it becomes a whole lot easier to establish the habit and to keep going with it for a long time.



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  • the Self Help Hipster April 23, 2012, 8:55 pm

    Excellent tips. I really like the ‘take a break’ one too – sometimes that’s just what you need to get everything back into focus.

  • Anonymous April 23, 2012, 9:25 pm

    Love your straight forward, simple but gentle, reassuring words especially the concept of just for today – I try and remind myself of this as its a concept of Reiki – all too often I forget, especially my favourite – Just for today, I will not worry!!!
    Thanks Henrik

  • Harleena Singh April 24, 2012, 5:42 am

    Wonderful post!

    You are absolutely right about saying that it takes sometime for a habit to develop and all you need to do is make sure that you are regular with it for 30days.

    I remember the time when I had to start my early morning walks and the tough time I had waking up early in the morning. Each morning was an ordeal because I was sleeping late at night. I had to take things in my own hand and give it a real serous thought. And just the will-power and determination got me going, after I gave myself that much needed push.

    Now the things have changed – because when you really want to do something really bad, you find ways and means to do it. I sleep early now, so that I am up early and it’s been years now since morning walks have become a habit with me.

    Yes, there are those cheat days or when I don’t feel like going- so I take it easy those days but make up the next day. I guess what matters most is that you also learn to enjoy your habit so that you like what you are doing routinely.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Bret April 24, 2012, 7:34 am

    Agreed! One of the key elements is really wanting to create the new habit, fully and authentically, then it becomes rather easy in my experience.

  • Ben April 25, 2012, 2:14 am

    Yeah as much as I wish I could just think “I’m doing this new habit” and it was instantly easy, it still has to be worked at. I do it by letting go of the fears, excuses and other stuff that comes up trying to stop me.

    After getting up at 8am (a massive difference for me) for a few weeks, I found today I got up a bit later and there is stuff coming up trying to stop me. But instead of being frustrated, I choose to use this as a way to further strengthen my new habit. I can also use any criticism to do this also by letting it go. :)

    -Ben

  • Marien Perez April 25, 2012, 9:19 am

    The hardest bit for me is to keep going when the going gets tough. For example, this morning I was writing for my blog, and felt rather demotivated and disheartened.
    Then I read a comment that Justin Mazza made to the blog, where he talks about using brain entrainment mp3′s to get energised. What a wonderful tip!

    Check them out on You Tube. Here is my favourite:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1tBSboT9fk&feature=related

    Enjoy :)
    Marien

  • David Hamilton April 26, 2012, 7:34 am

    I must admit…I love the “quit” section! So often growing up we are told “winners never quit” – but that never takes into account whether you are doing something FOR YOU, or for someone else’s approval! Really contemplating and checking in with a deeper intuition, and the answer can be found.

  • Janice A May 5, 2012, 5:03 am

    I enjoy reading all your tips, I make a habit of it. :-)
    Ps- Check out this great book on positive thinking I discovered called, Discovering Your Personal Power by Nikkos Zorbas
    Enjoy! Namaste
    http://www.amazon.com/Discovering-Your-Personal-Power-Inspiration/dp/1475041977/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336186780&sr=8-1

  • Christine May 20, 2012, 11:49 pm

    Great article. I have a difficult time creating good habits, too. You’ve done well to get into the readers mind. It only makes sense that we are creating a new habit that we actually like! Thanks. =)
    http://616christine.blogspot.com (How To Be Happy Again)

  • SilverQuest May 22, 2012, 4:18 pm

    “Just for today!” I like this. I think it’s the idea of doing it again makes something you’re dreading to do more “dreadly.”