How to build a habit that sticks – in 6 easy steps
? We all have habits, be them good, bad, healthy, not-so-healthy, trivia, or serious, almost everything we do boils down to habit. And today, I’m sharing 6 steps to create a healthy, enjoyable, and sustainable? HABIT ? THAT WILL STICK & IN EVERYTHING.
We’ve heard, read, and seen so much that it takes x-number of days to form a habit (21 sticks in my head here ?). Despite understanding the logic behind this that the activity needs to be repeated long enough for us to get used to, I believe there’s ❎ NO ❎ such thing as a fixed amount of time it takes but a question of bio-individuality, what habit to be formed, how it is done, and in what environment. For some people, it might take just a few days, for others it might be a matter of weeks, months or even longer. And the road is always easier for some than other.
However, I ? GOOD NEWS for you all ?!!! There are certain key principles gathered from my humble experience and knowledge that will help you form and maintain a habit in anything you want.
They have helped me to transform from someone with weak physics and zer?️ physical activities (going on scooter, using lifts everywhere, exercise-what-is-that?) ➡️ a strong & healthy fitness fanatic; from someone who was so often late for work that received complains and warnings from managers on more counts than I would like to share ➡️ a happy early-riser that would without-alarm be up before 6am even on holiday; from an instant-noodle queen ➡️ an avid healthy homecook.
And today, I’m sharing them all – 6 easy steps to a healthy, enjoyable, and sustainable new habit at your OWN PACE! Just stop counting on the time and start kicking a**??
1/ Be clear about your GOAL
Before starting doing anything, answers these two questions to yourself (and no one else!)
- WHAT habit do you want to build? Be SPECIFIC here!
Say if your answer is “be more active or do more exercise”, I would sadly say that it’s too general, vague, and thus unlikely to stick in the long-run. Instead, nail it down to the specific sport or activity you want to do. For example: work out 2 times/week; go a yoga class every Sunday; do a short walk after lunch. Same goes with “getting up early” – how early is early? What time or time-frame?
The clearer you are about what you want, the easier it is to act on
- WHY do you want to form such habit? There’s motivation and reason in everything we do. Knowing this why and keeping the desired results high in your mind is the key to building that habit
❓”So why you want to work out 2 times/week?”
❗”Because it is better for your physic conditions and will help you reduce risks of diabetes, heart diseases, etc”?
❗”Because my (so and so and so) said…I don’t know”
❓ “Why you want to stop smoking?”
❗”Because I know smoking kills – it increases risks of lung and other diseases”?
❗”Because my girlfriend wants me to”
2/ Break down your goal into SMALL & INCREMENTAL steps
It’s more often than not that big goals do not get fully accomplished, just like a big bite that one devours and gets choked up, or fails to enjoy the tastes of it all. It’s also easier to define actions, track progress, and accomplish each individual component of that end-goal. Examples:
- For someone who doesn’t work-out or do sport, a 10-min workout/day 2 times/week is easier to start with than 3 times of 1-hour per week
- To get started on reading books, 2 pages/day is easier than 1 book/week
- Quitting/stopping certain food/drink: for most people, reducing the amount or frequency is more achievable than stopping all at once.
Now, let’s get to the HOW’s
3/ Associate the habit with activities that you ENJOY
No one wants to do things that they dread and everyone enjoy doing things that they enjoy. By associating the habit you want to form with things that you like, activities that you enjoy or are good at – you are more likely to repeat them with pleasure and thus able to maintain them for the long-run. Also, mix up these favourite activities so that you don’t get bored from performing the same thing over and over again.
- If you hate running or have weak knees, running will not be the activity that will help you with your fitness goal. Instead a mixture of resistance, strength, and flexibility exercises might be your best friends.
- If numbers and logics are usually your cakes, reading scientific or factual genre of books is likely more enjoyable than a melodramatic novel.
- If you love and thrive on competition, joining a challenge in a club or with friends who want to achieve similar goals
4/ Prepare in advance
As with everything, preparation is the key to success. Not only that it helps us set mind on the action, but also ensures the logistics are planned for so that ❌NO EXCUSE❌ flies around.
I’m not talking here about hours of outlining, dry-running, or simply visualising the whole process or activity itself, but rather some simple acts:
- A reminder / note so you know when/where the activity is planned
- Organise your agenda so that the dedicated date/time is clear
- Preparing gears the day/night before: e.g. laying out clothes for your work, sport gears for your workout sessions,
- Plan out your menu and ingredient list for meal-prepping
- Have not one but a few books/reading materials on your reading list
- Check weather forecasts before you start outdoor walking/activities and think of alternatives if needed
5/ Have an accountability partner or support community
Though listed at no. 5, this is probably the second or third most important factor that will help you not only in forming a healthy happy habit but in everything. An accountability partner is someone you can share your goal, progress, struggle, and success with. Very often, it’s also someone who shares similar goal and is walking the same path with you, with whom you enjoy sharing experiences, tips, tricks, and laughable moments along the way. It would also be someone who would remind you of your goal and a kick in the **butt** when you feel like giving up. I remember when I started my #fitnessjourney some 5 years ago, my best friend was already a gym enthusiast and soon inspired me to go on the Kayla Itsines movement with her. We would “warn” each other’s’ of next day’s challenge, sending check-in WhatsApp after finishing our work-out, laughing ? at “near-deadth” moves, exchanging tips, etc. It was so fun and enjoyable that in no time, I moved from a 10-min daily routine to a 3-4 x 30-min serious workouts per week.
? With social media these days, you can also easily find a like-minded community on Instagram or Facebook such as a Book Club, Fitness Community, Hobby/Interest group, Entrepreneurial Club. Surrounding yourself with positive energy and inspirations from such people/groups will add so much more motivation and fun to your habit-building path.
I know that many of you are strong, determined, and absolutely capable of achieving great things on your own. But having someone to share and support your amazing achievements and habits with will make them even more rewarding and worth-sticking-to.
6/ At every step, be kind t❤ yourself and appreciate what you’ve achieved
Quite often, we fall into a self-criticism mode when things do not go well and forget to praise ourselves when they do. So this last principle is more of a reminder to look back at your goals, your what-why-how and treat each step as a learning opportunity, and to appreciate what you’ve achieved thus far. Even if you slip, it can be because the goal was too big and needs re-defining, and not because you are not capable of doing it. Or perhaps your WHY is not strong enough and what you’ve been doing is not really the habit you want to build.
In the end, everything is in YOUR HANDS, it’s:
- WHAT habit you want to create
- WHY you need/want it
- HOW’s you want to do it:
- In small & incremental steps
- With activities you enjoy
- SUPPORT you need and enjoy
- APPRECIATION you deserve
And with these, my friends, I’m sure you’ll create a happy healthy habit in everything you do before you know it.
Let me know below any other tips or share with me your experience with habits!