How to Successfully Change Your Habits

When it comes to changing habits, it is always best to start small. Starting small and allowing the change to grow overtime results in a better outcome than quitting a habit “cold turkey” and giving up in a few weeks when you realize that the change is unsustainable.

You probably have a long list of resolutions with some habits you want to change that might look like this:

· I want to eat healthier.
· I want to be more organized and efficient (always one of my goals).
· I want to start exercising.

However, as we all know that simple list is a lot harder to achieve than it is to put those words on paper. To change a habit on that list of you have to dedicate time, willpower, and discipline that is hard with the routine and interferences of our daily lives. That is why I recommend you pick a ridiculously small habit you can change (preferably the easiest one) from your list and focus on that single item.

This change needs to be something so small that you are 98% certain you can stick with it. It needs to be so absurdly small that you laugh at the easiness at which you can accomplish it. For example,

· I want to eat healthier.
    • New Habit: I am going to drink one less soda a day.
· I want to be more organized and efficient.
    • New Habit: I am going to carve out 5 minutes every day to complete one item on my “To-Do List”.
· I want to start exercising.
    • New Habit: I am going to set a timer (use your smartphone) for one minute and jog in-place.

Do anyone of these for 30 days, then re-evaluate your situation. Is it a habit? If not, do it for another 30 days. If it is, pick another small habit, or if you feel comfortable choose a more challenging habit. Then stick with the change for 30 days, and repeat. If you feel you are not sticking to the more challenging habit, then make it smaller like we did above.

If you are unable to stick with the habit, then try some self-reflection. Ask yourself, “Why is it hard for me to make this change?”

For me, I found it difficult to pick up the house after lunch because that is when my kids are excited to play. I noticed that I would put their toys away, and they would be right behind me taking out that exact toy to play with. To make it easier on me (and save my hair from being pulled out in frustration), I set the timer 30 minutes before their nap time, and I got them involved in picking up their toys. It worked out perfectly. I also applied this cleaning technique 30 minutes before their bedtime.

Having a plan for when you need extra motivation or for when you slip up is essential. If you are someone like me that needs extra motivation here are some tricks I use to keep me moving ahead:

1. Hang a calendar on the wall and put a big X on the days you stick with your habit. After time, you will have a chain of X’s that will help your motivation when it begins to wane.

2. Instead of saying, “I can’t…” say “I don’t…” This will put the power back into your lap. For example, instead of saying “I can’t have donuts” say “I don’t eat donuts.”

3. Make it a rule to never miss your habit twice. If you miss working out one day, don’t miss the second day. If you miss two days, it makes it easy to miss a third and a fourth.

No one is perfect and we all make mistakes along the way to achieving change. I never hear anyone bragging about the goals they miss or the failures they encountered when they were trying something new; however, it is those failures and challenges that make the accomplishment of the change so rewarding.

Since we all have encountered something like this at one time in our lives, I would love to hear about the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.



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