Simple hacks to help you stick to your habits
Creating new habits isn’t easy. The New Year starts, you’re all gung-ho about establishing some new habits to help you reach your goals, but just weeks or even days later you start feeling like giving up. Why is it so hard to stick to your habits?

What can we do to make sure that this year we actually stick with our habits in order to reach our goals?

After years of studying, reading and learning all about habits, goal setting, and becoming more productive, I found these to be the best tips to help us out!

Here are some simple hacks that will make it a little easier. Use them to help you internalize your new habit.

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1. Schedule It And Put It On your To-Do List

“What doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t get done” – Brendon Burchard

Sometimes we forget to do that new thing we were trying. Things that don’t get scheduled into our days often never happen. Make it a priority to set aside a specific time when you will do this new habit. Treat that time like an appointment.

Schedule your new habits and make them part of your daily to-do list until they become something you do automatically.

2. Set Reminders

When you aren’t paying attention to time, it can go by so much faster than you think. To avoid forgetting your new habit, try setting reminders on your phone to help remind you of when you should be doing it. You can use the calendar app or the alarm app to set reminders.

3. Focus on Getting Started

If you’re feeling discouraged, tell yourself that you don’t have to finish the whole task. Just focus on getting started. Once you start you will feel like the task wasn’t as bad as you thought and that you can do it! Don’t worry about how hard it is or how long it will take. Just ask yourself when and where can I start and then do it.

4. Make the Habit Easier

Instead of going to the gym 3 times a week, try aiming for once a week, or even tell yourself to workout for just 10 minutes a week! This method from Leo Babauta is so useful! He says to try lowering the barrier to doing the habit by making it smaller and easier to do. This will in turn help you to stop procrastinating on other tasks as well!

5. Practice the 2-minute rule

In David Allen’s Book, Getting Things Done, he talks about the 2Minute Rule. This rule states that if it takes less than two minutes, then do it now. No need to write it on your to-do list and make yourself feel more overwhelmed. If you need to put the dishes away, just do it now. 2 minutes isn’t a lot of time and it will save you so much worry help you procrastinate less and help prepare you better for reaching your goals.

For example, my goal this month is to cook more so that we can save money and eat healthier. But I hate cooking when the kitchen is a mess, so after every meal or while cooking, I always make it a habit clean up and wash dishes right away. It takes such little time to do and prepares me by having everything ready for when I do need to cook for dinner!

6. Prepare Your Environment

Just like I said earlier, having a prepared environment helps me to do the habit easier. Asian Efficiency calls this habit “clearing to neutral”.

They say that most times we procrastinate is because there is something blocking us from wanting to do the main task. For example, we don’t want to cook when the sink in the kitchen is full of pots and pans. Or we don’t want to work because our desk is so messy and we instead avoid it all together instead of having to clean it up then getting to work.

Another example is by picking out our clothes and shoes the next day so we are ready to go the next morning. The habit of clearing our environment helps set ourselves up for success, every time. So get into the habit or prepping beforehand.

7. Reward Yourself

Set up milestones for your goals and try to think of rewards that you can reward yourself with when you reach them. Having something to look forward to makes it easier to stick with a habit when you’re feeling a lack of motivation. Just be sure that your reward isn’t counteracting your goal.

8. Make It Public & Be Accountable

Let family and friends know what new habits you’re trying to establish. They will call you out if you don’t stick to your plan and get you back on track.

You may even go as far as sharing it publicly on Facebook or writing a blog about your new journey. Knowing that others read it and know about it might be just enough to keep you going when you feel like giving up. I know that’s what I did on my Instagram and Facebook! & So far it’s been working!

9. Pair It With a Habit You Already Have

Whenever possible, add the new habit to the one you already have. For example, if you make a cup of tea or coffee at 4pm, and you want to get in the habit of taking a daily walk, make the new ritual to go for your walk and then come back and enjoy your tea.

10. Plan for Obstacles

Things almost never go as planned. It’s hard to stick to a new habit. The first few days you feel extra motivated but that soon diminishes. Soon your willpower will be gone and one tiny change can make your habits fail. For example, say you were supposed to go for a walk every evening but then your husband called to say he had to work late. How do you plan around that? Will you take a walk with the kids? Wait for him to get off and take the walk then? Make your walk shorter for that day?

Don’t let one little slip up ruin you from establishing your new habit. Instead learn from the slip-up! Think about what happened and why and try to do better the next time. The key is to start it every day even if you only do it for a little. Planning ahead will help you become more prepared for successfully establishing your new habits.

11. Use “If…then…” Statements

Psychologist Peter Gollwitzer came up with implementation intention to help people better achieve their plans and form habits. It’s a strategy that uses “if-then” statements that can lead to a higher success rate in achieving your goals, by planning for obstacles in advance. Implementation intentions state the behavior you intend to take when or if such intended situation occurs. Let me show a few examples to better explain.
So you would create a statement like: “If situation x happens, then I will respond by doing y.”

  • GOAL: Exercise 3x a week after work
    • Implementation Intention: “If I get home and am too tired to go to the gym, I will drink a glass of water, put my shoes on and head out to the gym.”
  • GOAL: Floss regularly
    • Implementation Intention: “When I brush my teeth, I will immediately start flossing” (just like tip #9!)
  • GOAL: Drink more water
    • Implementation Intention: “If I get thirsty, then I will reach for a glass of water instead of an unhealthy drink.”

12. Track it

Print out a monthly calendar, use a wall calendar, or use a habit tracker that you can mark everyday you successfully complete your habit. Be sure to place it somewhere visible for daily motivation. If you want something digital try downloading an app that reminds you and try  keep your stats up. (I currently use the Productivity Wizard app. It works as an all-in-one app for me. It includes recurring habits, goals, to do lists, calendar, daily review and journal, focus timer and more!)

Work hard not to break the chain! And to take it a step further try to use a journal to write in your thoughts about the day, what went well and what can you do to make tomorrow better.

13. Bet On Yourself

Here’s a fun idea. Put a jar on the kitchen counter and each time you slip back into your bad habit or forget to stick to the new one you have to put five dollars in the jar. It will quickly help you remember to skip that sugary food and motivate you to go out for that walk. For extra motivation hand it over to your spouse to go spend on him or herself.

14. Find An Accountability Partner and Help Each Other Along

Find someone with the same or similar goal. This could be a workout partner or a diet buddy. Keep tabs on each other and encourage each other to keep going. It’s much harder to skip a workout if you know someone else is depending on you being there.

Stick to your Habits!

Give these simple little hacks a try. Keep using the ones that you find helpful until you have made new habits you can stick with without the help of any tools or support.

Above all, just keep practicing this new habit! Learn self-control, control your willpower and self-discipline. The more you act with discipline the more it becomes easier and easier!

I’d love to know what habits you have planned and which of the above hacks you are going to put in place to help them become automatic. Let me know in the comments below which habits you are working on!

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