.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.
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.