You might have tried adopting several habits before, but “How was it doing now?” ,” How long did it take you to stick into this habit?” Or are you like most of the people, who failed to build those habits?
We always hear from successful people that they have these unique habits that made them successful. We all aspire to copy and adopt these into our own lives. We often hear someone waking up around 5AM in the morning, someone reading 30+ books each year, or doing their regular workouts each week.
But we always ended up sitting at our chair wondering… “Why can’t I do that?”
I know you’ve tried several times but there is something wrong that it doesn’t last like what you were expecting when you first started. You always start with this zealous intent to do it on a regular basis and then after a few days or weeks, you suddenly forgot about it and just accepted that it was just NOT FOR YOU.
The problem behind all of this situation and maybe the problem that you are currently experiencing right now is that… We often missed some important things in building habits. We often neglect these items that are considered crucial in building your habit.
Once you fully understand these common mistakes that’s the time that you will be able to do a lot better than before when it comes to ensuring that your new habit will stick.
Below are the common habit building mistakes that you certainly not doing or not well enough:
1. Starting too much!
This normally happens at the start of building a habit. We felt like we can change everything, we felt within us this enormous amount of motivation that we can do everything all at once and we are very positive about it. So, we started doing it in the first day, then second day, then third, then fourth…then suddenly we stop and it’s gone.
We often felt this sudden rush within us that we always forgot that habit building is easy. We normally do too much in the early phase of the habit, then tend to become overwhelmed and leads to missing our streaks, thereafter.
We often started too grand that we got overwhelmed and we ended giving up too early.
We have to remind ourselves that building habit takes some time. If you wanted to make reading as part of your habit and you haven’t read any books before, you can’t expect that you can read 1 chapter per day and make it sustainable for a long time. Soon enough you will be overwhelmed and will just stop.
Focus on starting small and slowly add bit by bit. Remember the concept of snowball effect, you first need to build up the momentum before you can do the difficult part, starting small until you’ve got the momentum do bigger tasks. Try reading instead, a few pages per day, until it becomes easy for you, then do a little bit more each day until you’ve reach to a point that you can read 1 chapter each day or 1 book a week.
FOCUS FIRST IN BUILDING UP THE MOMENTUM BEFORE THE ACTUAL HABIT ITSELF.
2. Instant result
I have seen this several time for those who wanted to lose some weight.
At first, they have this motivation, doing regular exercise for that week eating healthy foods and even doing fasting. But after a week or two. They gave up already on their journey.
The problem lies in our expectation that we did too much and think that deserve an instant result. We often forget that habit building is not about instant results it was the long boring and trivial things that you do normally and will eventually have meaningful impact in the long run. It will NEVER BE IN AN INSTANT AND IF IT DOES, IT WON’T LAST LONG.
Remember that habit building is not a sprint that you must run fast and finish it soon. It was actually a triathlon; it is an endurance race and you don’t to be the first you just have to finish it and be steadfast until you’ve reached your goal.
We have to remind ourselves that habit building is not a race that we can finish it within a few days or weeks. It takes dedication and we should set our expectations not on the days it would take to master a habit, but the lifelong impact once we’ve mastered it.
However, knowing that it will take some time should not stop us from doing it. This just means that you can’t stop too soon, all worth having always takes some time. If you wanted to lose weight just focus on the workout that you must do and need to eat today.
If there is still no visible result after a month, reassess and keep going. Soon enough your habit will become part of you and the result you’ve wanted will be more apparent than when you’ve first started.
JUST FOCUS ON SHOWING UP EACH DAY AND REMIND YOURSELF THAT IT WOULD TAKE SOME TIME MORE THAN WHAT YOU ARE EXPECTING IT.
3. Not tracking!
We always thought habit don’t have to be tracked. Do you know this quote from Peter Drucker?
“You can’t manage, what you can’t measure”
This just mean that if you want to manage your habit building to its full potential and ensure that you will not fall off in doing it you have to measure it, you have to track it.
This gives you more visual way of checking how are you doing in your habit building. Are you falling off for a couple of days now? What caused you to miss those days? What are those days that you don’t feel like doing it? What you can do to avoid those missed days?
You can only answer these questions if you properly manage your habit building. Be intentional in what you are doing, do it with an intention of being consistent. The reason why we can’t stick for long on our habits are mainly we got overwhelmed and don’t see any results that ended us up not sure what to do next, saying to ourselves this; “I did everything and nothing is happening better just stop doing this.”
We always give up too soon and never even thought of what’s wrong with what you are doing and what you can do about it.
Find any calendar or just create columns that represent each day of the week on your notebook. Cross out each day that you successfully did your habit. Then, do your reassessment each week why you’ve missed some days. Ask yourself what caused it, what were you thinking that time? Or what do you feel at that moment that you’ve missed it?
One important note, follow the 2-day rule, you can never miss two days in a row. You can do your habit every other day but never two days in a row.
Tracking your habit gives you full awareness on what you must do each day. This helps you be mindful on all decisions that you are making each day. Once you got this streak of continuous days, it felt rewarding, it will boost your confidence and will allow you to do it more consistently.
REMEMBER THAT YOU HAVE TO TRACK IT IF WANT TO MANAGE IT.
4. Not changing your environment.
Would you expect someone to lose some weight given the following situations or circumstances:
- Watching unhealthy food videos
- Storing unhealthy food in the fridge
- Living with people with unhealthy habits
- Doing your cheat day more often than what it should be
We often forget that our environment significantly affects our decisions. We may say that we have our own will to avoid these things that could ruin your habit, but the question is “How long you can avoid it?”
I am not saying that you must stay away from unhealthy people or don’t store any unhealthy food in your fridge (but that can be a good idea too). What I am saying is that you must set your environment in a way that it would help you do your habit easier and more consistent.
We have to understand that the greatest enemy to success is not the people who belittle you or the person who hates you, it will always be You and Yourself alone. It is often a lot easier to control your environment than yourself.
Don’t set your environment for you to just fail, control and manage your environment that will help you in sticking into your habits.
Set your environment in a way that it would be easier for you to follow your habits. Want to ensure that you will do your workout each morning? Prepare all your stuffs at night and wear your gym clothes the night before sleeping, the friction for you to resist on doing the workout in the morning is lesser as compared if you will just prepare in the morning.
Always plan and think ahead on what you can do to make your habit easier to execute. Don’t believe that you can do it successfully with all the temptation in your environment, set your environment first and everything will follow.
IT WILL ALWAYS BE A LOT EASIER TO CONTROL YOUR ENVIRONMENT THAN TO CONTROL YOURSELF.
We normally commit these mistakes when we are building our habit, we just thought that “I just have to do it”. It might be correct at some point but you will certainly face obstacles during your journey of building your habit and the question would be “Are you prepared for this?”
Awareness and clarity on what should be done and what must be avoided is critical for habit building. The mistakes and solutions which we have discussed above will certainly help you stick to your habits better than before.
Now try doing all or some of these and let me know how it improves your habit building.