You’re sick of trying to start a new habit.
It’s always the same story. You start off excited. You run to the nearest gym and sign up. You buy new gym clothes. And try setting up a workout routine and a diet plan.
But after a couple of weeks, the enthusiasm fizzles out. And you are back on the same track, eating the wrong foods and working out less and less.
Then on the third month, you are doing the same things as before. You feel demoralized and hopeless. Nothing has changed.
You accepted the fate that you can’t get it done.
That’s the story of most people’s lives.
I want you to let yourself off the hook.
First things first.
Change is only hard because we make it hard.
And part of the problem is we start off wanting to conquer the world.
We want to run a marathon, but we can barely run a mile.
We want to travel the world but haven’t stepped in another country before.
You’re not alone. Many have tried and failed. Studies indicate that 92% people will never achieve their New Year’s resolution.
And that’s because they don’t know the right strategies and tools to change a habit. It’s revealed that 95% of everything we feel, do, and achieve is a result of a learned habit.
However, not all is lost. If you can learn a habit, you can also unlearn them.
Changing a habit does not require you to suck your brains out of your eye socket.
I will teach you the right strategy to accomplish your goals.
And by the end of this article, you will have a badass toolkit to tackle this mammoth and make it your proverbial pet donkey.
Most of my life I lived the common experience of failing to create new habits. And like everyone, I failed and kept repeating the same thing.
These failures were a mystery, as someone who made a successful career in aviation and as a military officer. I struggled to keep personal commitments I made to myself, from going to the gym regularly or calling up the relatives to keep in touch.
With a lot of trial and error, I came to learn each of the common mistakes I made. And every time I failed, I tried again and failed.
I failed until I eventually got it right.
You will learn how tiny tweaks and mindset will turn your life downside up. Creating habits are not as difficult as you think, but the same time there not as easy. If changing habits were easy, everyone would be able to do it.
Why most habits fail? (5 reasons)
This habit is probably the one that everyone makes consistently. I’ve done it, your mother has done it, and probably Tim Ferris’s evil twin.
The mother of all habits gone wildly wrong is making the wrong habits.
Mistake #1 Making the wrong habits.
We often start off by making broad and ambiguous habits to accomplish: I want to be organized, I want to be healthy, I want to be wake up early.
These are not habits, these are wishes in disguise: I wish I didn’t lose my keys, I wish I had abs like Zac Effron, I wish I was early for work.
This is the reason most of us fail.
We are not specific with our habits. Broad statements like “make exercise a habit” has no standard. Do you want to “exercise daily”? Weekly?
We have to be able to measure our habit if we are to accomplish it.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” by the father of management, Peter Drucker.
By breaking down your habit into mini-habits we get a specific and measurable standard to accomplish.
Breakdown of a habit to a mini-habit: I want to make exercise a habit.
- I will exercise Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 am.
- I will plan my workouts before I go to the gym.
- I will attempt to reach my weekly specific fitness goals .
- I will track my repetitions and sets for each workout.
Switching from a broad to a specific habit makes your habit feasible. This brings me to the second most common mistake.
Mistake #2 You don’t have a specific goal and target.
Having a mini-habit is different from having a specific goal. Habit forming without specific goals and a target would be nothing more than aimless change.
If you could only master one skill that will create abundance in your life, it’s learning how to effectively set and achieve goals.
By our very nature, we are goal-seeking creatures. Yes, I said it. We are creatures. Of habit…
Our brain is always trying to align our outer world with what we’re seeing and expecting in our inner world.
So, when you instruct your brain to look for the things you want, you will begin to see them.
No this isn’t voodoo science.
When you define your goals, you give your brain something new to look for and focus on.
The first step is setting a clear goal attached to that habit.
A specific habit would be: I want to run three times per week.
A clear goal is: Run a 5k in 12 months.
Clear goals allow us make our habits more meaningful. They guide us where we want to be. And hell it feels good to accomplish a goal. No matter how little a goal it can be.
Mistake # 3 Implementing too many habits
Remember when I said 95% of all our actions are controlled by our habits. Trying to change one automatic behavior is a tremendous thing. Trying to change two habits… What rat-smelling green glob are you smoking?
Regardless how motivated and inspired you are for change, trying to implement more than one habit will result in complete failure.
Creating a habit is a conscious decision. The more conscious decisions we make the more willpower we use.
Willpower is like a battery in your cellphone. In the morning, we are fully charged. Every time we make a conscious decision we use this renewable resource. And by the end of the day we are drained.
Implementing two habits increases more decisions. In studies, people with conflicting goals reported fewer positive emotions, more negative emotions, and more depression and anxiety.
Yea so lets stick with one habit and not be a depressing zombie. We just need to take things step by step, day by day.
Willpower is a limited resource that should be use intelligently.
Mistake # 4. Not prioritizing your habit
Willpower is greatest at the start of the day. You want to implement your habit in the morning.
Successful people don’t use willpower as soon as the rodent brownies are about to hit the fan. They use self-control to prevent a crisis. They play offensively.
Professional bodybuilders do not make their lunch the same day. They do it the night prior when they have self-control. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” said by Benjamin Franklin.
How important is this habit you want? Make it a priority.
Because the more competing tasks you face, the more time you spend contemplating these demands. The more demands you have, the more willpower you need.
In the morning, you minimize your obstacles of willpower and ensure the greatest success. You don’t want to form habits after you get home from work in a depleted state.
Your willpower maybe not always be on will-call, but when you use it first on what matters most, you can always count on it.
If you want to form a habit, do it where your willpower is at its greatest.
Mistake #5. Wanting immediate change
The biggest mistake we all make is seeking out a “magic pill” that promise us a fast transformation.
This is how marketers get us. They fuel our impatience because we want the results right now. This is the honest truth that no self-improvement guru will tell you: real change requires a lot of time.
The key to creating concrete habits is understanding that transformation is a process. These super-tiny, seemingly inconsequential adjustments can and will revolutionize everything.
The best illustration to emphasize this is imagine a plane flying from Miami to Seattle. If the plane is off-course by 5 degrees it would result in 150 miles off-course. That is the power of change overtime.
One small good habit, which may not look like much in the moment, can ultimately lead you miles to the direction, goal, and the life you desire.
By focusing on building one mini-habit at a time, we make it easy to develop it.
Needless to say. But you are going to need more than willpower to implement good habits. When willpower fails, you need something that will keep rooted and stable.
How to Succeed – 3 steps
You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell
Habits are the foundation for any successful person.
We make a deliberate choice at some point. After making the the deliberate choice X amount of times the behavior becomes automatic.
By understanding the steps we can rebuild our neural pathways in which we desire.
Isn’t that exciting! Here are three steps to aid you in your journey of creating the new you.
1. Make a daily routine
In the book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about the three main keys in habit formation: cue, routine, and reward.
A quick example of this Cue, Routine, Reward model is our need to urinate.
It’s a natural habit that occurs without thought.
Heres the rundown of how your habit to urinate takes place-
Cue: You wake up fresh, however your body feels differently. Your bladder is about to detonate involuntarily. This cue reminds us to start the behavior and acts as a trigger to get yourself to the nearest toilet. Pronto!
Routine: You release your unnecessary liquids inside the toilet. This is the actual behavior as a result of your body’s cue.
Reward: Your reward is the sense of relief.
If the reward itself is positive and the behavior is repeated, the behavior would slowly transition to a habit.
It’s paramount that you use a cue on an established habit.
Here are some examples of established habits :
- Brushing teeth
- Making coffee in the morning
- Putting your shoes on
- Putting on clothes
- Getting into bed
- Eating your meals
If you want to start reading each morning, its crucial to pick a simple cue that is already part of your routine. A good example is after making coffee you can take out a book and start reading.
You need a reward that will enjoy after reading. In this case, your reward for reading is drinking the coffee. Once your brain starts expecting the rewards, the sense of accomplishment or the dopamine from coffee, reading will be automatic.
The only caveat is when you trigger the routine, you must crave the reward. Otherwise, your old habits will take over.
Lesson of the story is find a real reward.
2. Find your purpose
That time when you tried willpower and it failed you. You said you were going to start saving for a down-payment for a used Tesla. You went three weeks on your paleo diet, but your hunger cravings gave you a hundred reasons to eat a Whopper.
When you used up all your willpower all you have left is your why-power. The decision to change requires the change to be meaningful. If you want something, you have to know why you want it, or you’ll end giving up again.
Knowing your why is the anchor in transforming behaviors into habits. When the tough starts rolling, when things become mundane and grueling, it is not the hows, but the whys that get you through these times.
The best decisions and choices are the ones that identify with your purpose. If you want something, you have to know why you want it.
If you’re going to implement a habit ask yourself these three questions:
- On a scale from one to ten, how much does this habit excite you?
- How much impact on my life would this habit have?
- What is your commitment from a scale one to ten?
Tony Robbins said, “All personal breakthroughs begin with a change in beliefs. So how do we change? The most effective way is to get your brain to associate massive pain to the old belief. You must feel deep in your gut that no only has this belief cost you pain in the past, but its costing you in the present and, ultimately, can only bring you pain the future.”
Realize when you’re struggling, go back and remind yourself why you started.
3. Make your habit easy to implement.
I remember when I tried to get back into lifting weights in 2014. I was highly motivated and started off exercising 5 times a week.
After the fourth week, I was tired and didn’t workout one day because I struggling internally. Week by week I started to workout less and less.
After reading Mini Habits, the book describes how its far more mentally efficient to break things down into small components that are easy to digest. If you want to save $5,000 within a year, its less stressful when you break it down. If you can save $193 every two weeks for a year, you would reach your $5,000 savings goal.
If you want to start creating habits, start with a mini-habit and then make that mini-habit easy for you. If there is one lesson here about creating habits, breakdown every all your habits, targets, and goals.
Writing a book might sound arduous and daunting, however if I break small goals as write a minimum 200 words daily. It’s easy for our brains and not have to fight internally if we should procrastinate or not.
The bottom line
Creating habits isn’t only about making a decision to change, goal-setting, and willpower.
It’s also about starting small, breaking down habits, and finding your why .
More than likely, you’re not living to the fullest of your potential. Your environment, your choices, and your schedule are sucking all the promise right out of you.
If you want to succeed, you have to change your mindset. Surround yourself with other people that want change. Read and bury yourself in books. Also, cut all the crap out of your life that’s distracting you.
It may not occur to you suddenly, but you it will change you. Drastically.
And you’ll see the results.
Where no one believed you could change, you will start having friends question why are you reading a lot of books. They want you to remain you the same because they don’t want to feel inferior because they see you improving. Where you used to struggle losing weight, you will be the one giving inspiration to others.
Not because you’re using some secret that only successful people know. Not because you have immense self-control. Not because you hired a success coach.
It’ll happen because you’re worthy. Slowly and painfully, you’ll have transformed into someone worth listening to.
Are you ready to be that person?
Or are you going to be just another self-improvement junkie?
The choice is yours.