It’s far easier to get lost in a cycle of bad habits than it is to establish good habits, but when you put your time and energy toward positive behaviors, you’ll be surprised how many aspects of your life will benefit as a result.
Good habits can be established in all areas—whether you want to wake up earlier, feeling more refreshed, or if you want to dedicate more time each week to pursuing your passions. The key falls in the word habit, which you can’t institute without consistency.
Use a calendar (or another visual aid)
A lot of us need physical affirmation that we’re working toward our goals. If you can’t see your progress, you don’t think it’s real and are therefore more likely to lose sight of the finish line. It takes about a month of consistent behaviors to establish a habit, so consider marking a calendar every day you follow through with your promise to yourself. When you get to the end of the month and every day is checked off, you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come—and you’ll likely have already set the groundwork for your good habit.
Reverse peer pressure
We don’t typically think of peer pressure as a good thing—it’s often associated with those bad habits we may have established in our adolescence. But the truth is, peer pressure is effective. When you are the odd one out in a group, our feelings of wanting to belong become almost too intense to ignore and we’re likely to cave into the group’s behavior. The key here is the behavior doesn’t have to be bad. If you’re looking to get healthier, joining a gym with a friend can help you keep to your four-days-a-week workout plan. Or, if you want to be more productive at work, institute a challenge with coworkers to see who can complete more tasks each day.
Take your time
There’s nothing guaranteed to fail faster than a habit that you force yourself into without laying the proper foundation. When you jump into a habit by stopping an old habit cold turkey, you’re much more likely to regress into bad behaviors. Instead, focus on setting long-term goals for your habits that are more attainable, and set markers to determine your progress. When you can envision a plan for yourself that accounts for setbacks and obstacles along the way, you won’t have as far to fall.
Old habits die hard
The reason it’s easy to get stuck in a spiral of bad habits is that, most of the time, they feel good. No one embraces change overnight, and it’s normal to be hesitant. The important thing to remember is that mistakes are OK. You might not stick to your new habit 100 percent of the time, so long as you don’t fall off the wagon completely. No path is straight forward—but if you veer off, make sure you are able to follow through and remember why you started this journey in the first place.