We all have good habits and bad habits. And we all want to increase our good habits and minimise or stop our bad ones. But how do we do that?
Well, let’s be honest, no matter what you’re told, it’s not easy. Some people will tell you it takes 29 days to change a habit. Is that right?
There are a lot of variables. For example, the person you are, the habit itself, how long you have been doing it, how ingrained it is, whether it is part of your lifestyle, if you do it with others, if you have had success at changing habits before, how much you want to change, whether you give up easily…..all these feed into how successful you will be. 29 days is an incredibly short time to change a habit that is ingrained, done unconsciously, and has been for many years (nail biters, I’m looking at you!)
Common advice is to just change one habit at a time. And that makes sense. But for people like me, who have lots of new things they want to incorporate in their busy lives, it’s not fast enough.
There is another way. I’ve just set myself some new habits. Some new things to start doing. Now for me to succeed I have to stop doing one thing: wasting time. But I only see it as wasted if I realise that there are other ways that I want to spend that time. There’s no point me spending less time reading the news on the internet to do…..nothing. To change my habit of spending too much time on the internet I need to replace it with something else. And maybe more than one thing.
So, against all common sense advice, I have 6 new habits. And they’re laid out on a spreadsheet, which is called my Habit Roadmap. I have written down the new habit, how many days a week I want to do it, and have little tickboxes for every day (yes, I am a closet nerd).
The thing is, I don’t expect to do every one every day. This roadmap is to build and encourage consistency, not to enforce it. If I plan to do one of the new habits 5 days a week, and I only manage it 3 times, well hey, I can still celebrate — because I managed 3 days. I’m not going to be cursing myself for not hitting my notional targets every day or week. I’m just aiming to build consistently. And that takes time.
But that’s just my way. Maybe you want to focus on one habit at a time. That’s okay too.
So if you plan on setting new habits, go easy on yourself. Aim for small-time semi-consistency to start. If this week you do a little better than last week, then that’s brilliant. So you didn’t hit your target? Don’t give up, there’s always next week, or the week after. Day by day, week by week, build consistency in small steps. You’ll get there. And there will be a domino effect, because you’ll start to see yourself as a person who can change habits, which will encourage you to continue with the habit and also to be confident in setting up new habits.
What are the best ways you have found for changing habits, or do you find you always fall back into the old (bad) habit after a time?