While it always takes time for a habit to form, if we want to encourage one to take hold, here are some key things we can do:
- Do it more often. Each repetition of a behavior helps to strengthen the neural connections that can make that behavior automatic.
- Skip the excuses and exceptions. While nobody’s perfect, it’s important to keep in mind that any time we skip a day or decide to let things slide because of “special circumstances” sets things backward and delays the formation of a habit. (See “How Not to Make Excuses“)
- Plan in advance. Sometimes we don’t have a lot of attention to spare to think about a goal at the times when we need to make key choices. By planning ahead when we do have a few moments to think, we can have the right choices mapped out for us and increase our chances of making them.
- Think, visualize, discuss, daydream. The more time we put into thinking about our goals and imagining the payoffs, the easier it is to tap into motivation when we need it. Use a daily commute, time waiting for appointments, time in the shower, and even conversations with friends to spend more brain time on your goal.
- Simplify. The more we make our desired behaviors simple to manage, the more likely we are to be successful managing them. Use tools, regular events, well-thought-out systems, and repeatable behaviors to stay on track.
- Find the appeal. It’s much easier to keep to a course of action when it’s something we think of ourselves as enjoying instead of something we think of as a chore or limitation. Focus as much as possible on the things that make a behavior appealing, and be willing to try to find some enjoyment even in circumstances you’re used to thinking of as unpleasant, like feeling hungry or getting organized.
Photo by Maia C