The Basic Structure for Installing and Keeping New Habits
I've been exploring the study of habit creation for years upon years. There are many different approaches, styles, and philosophies. In this post, I'm going to give you the absolute most condensed pith from my years of reading. If you have a hard time with self-control, keeping habits, and motivating yourself, then you can use this to finally set a new course in your life.
Here we go:
Define specifically what you're doing.
Execute to the best of your ability.
Evaluate and recalibrate.
I'll go into a bit of detail now, but the key is to keep all of this as simple as you can. Remember the mind prevents progress by creating confusion. It likes to make things confusing in order to paralyze you and prevent you from growing.
So keep it simple. Any action (even if it's totally wrong) is better than no action.
1) Define specifically what you're doing.
If you want to get into the habit of going to the gym then you need to know:
- Specifically when are you going? - Do you have a membership yet? When are you going to get it? - What are you going to do at the gym? How will you know when you're done? - When it's time to go, will you want to go? How will you try to talk yourself out of it? - Why is it necessary to go to the gym? Why is it necessary to develop this habit?
I'm telling you right now, if you take just 5 minutes to answer these questions, you will 5-10x the probability that the habit will stick this year.
The key is to make your plan so clear that you could hand it to someone else and they would know exactly what to do without any loopholes or gray areas.
2) Execute to the best of your ability.
It's not overly important that you execute your plan perfectly. What IS important is that you execute to the best of your ability, whatever that is.
You will always feel reluctant to work on your new habit. You'll always be too tired. You'll always want to delay. You'll definitely want to talk yourself out of it.
Every time you bypass your mind's attempts to stop you, this is a victory. These victories build upon themselves into true momentum. These are the Lego blocks that eventually become your castle.
3) Evaluate and Recalibrate.
If you're truly serious about getting a new habit online and keeping it, then don't skip this step.
On a weekly basis have a meeting with yourself to evaluate how true the execution was to the plan. So in other words, did you execute the plan fully? Or only partially? Not at all?
This is not a time to judge or be mean to ourselves. Instead, just like a good scientist, we look at the data and then we adjust for the upcoming week. Adjust it to make it easier, harder, or more enjoyable.
If you do just these three things, you will be unstoppable at setting new habits.
It will still be difficult, it will still take time, and you may still struggle. But these three points will put you on the most direct course and deliver you from the most wasted time.
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I wish you a wonderful new year!