(Pssst: Before you get started, if you prefer to listen instead of read, click here for a link to the podcast episode: 3 Unconventional Tips to Building Habits that Actually Stick)
How many times have you told yourself that you were going to start working out, or eating healthy, or finally tackle that cleaning project you’ve been avoiding forever?
How many times have you actually followed through? I imagine the story goes a little something like this...you start to notice that your pants are getting a little tighter. You feel more and more uncomfortable in your body by the day...but you ignore it. You assume that if you ignore it, it will just go away. Until one day, you find yourself screaming at your spouse and kids...and you’re not exactly sure why you’re so upset.
Until you dig a little deeper and realize that you haven’t really been taking care of yourself. And it’s taking a toll on your relationships, and your self-esteem. You decide it’s time to make a change! You make the declaration to start working out 5 days a week, cut out gluten, sugar, carbs, oh and while you’re at it, you might as well start drinking a gallon of water a day.
At first, you’re motivated and excited! You think to yourself, “this time will be different! I’m tired of living this way”. For the first week or two, you’re on it! You sweat your booty off in those hour long gym sessions. You declare on Instagram “I cut out gluten, sugar, and carbs and I’ve never felt more energized!”, you carry your gallon jug around as a badge of honor for your new healthy lifestyle.
But then...the inevitable happens.
Life kicks in. Your kid gets sick. Or you get in a fight with a spouse or friend and it totally throws you off. Suddenly, your new habits are the first thing to go out the window. And you’re back to square one. Not only are you back to square one, but you’re also pissed at yourself. How could you let this happen again? When will you actually follow through with what you say you’ll do? Why can’t you just get it together?
I hear you, my friend. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in this position. And how many times I felt like I was treading water, and never actually making progress. I thought it was my lack of willpower or motivation that was holding me back. WRONG. So wrong. It was actually the way I was approaching my goals and resolutions that was keeping me stuck. Thankfully, I’ve been through it and come out on the other side (more victoriously than I ever could have imagined, might I add!) and I’m here to help you beat habit building overwhelm so you can actually become the person you know you’re capable of being, and create the life of your dreams.
Wanna know how to make it happen for you?
Before get started, I wanna offer you a freebie I made just for you! It’s called the “Habit Transforming Worksheet”. This worksheet is designed to help you gain clarity on what goals you should focus on first, and how to implement those goals in a way that actually sticks. You can get a hold of this worksheet right now by clicking the link below!
Alright, now let’s dive into this truly transformational work!
There are 3 secrets to building habits that actually stick. The first secret is to get picky, the second is to adopt the all or something approach, and the third is to revisit your goals on a daily basis.
Habit building Tip number 1: Get picky about your goals
Setting a goal isn’t something to be taken lightly. Building new habits isn’t something that’s simple. Even though research in the past has shown that it only takes 21 days or so to build a new habit, it actually takes much longer than that. As you adopt new habits, your brain is literally adjusting to the change. The way we’re designed is that if we become overwhelmed, we shut down. So the idea is to avoid overwhelm. How can we avoid overwhelm? But focusing on just 1-3 new habits at a time, which means you’ll want to be super picky on which goals you choose. My hack for this is to choose a goal which is the simplest, but will have the biggest impact. Let me take you through the selection process…
Let’s say I’m wanting to adopt a new self-care routine. I’ll want to start by adding 1-3 new habits into the mix. Until I get good at habit building, it’s best for me to first choose the habits that come with bigger consequences if I don’t do them. So even though I can add in tongue scraping later on, for now it won’t be an enticing enough goal for me to actually stick to.
So I’ll start with the thing that makes the biggest impact. For me, that would be sleep. If I’m only getting 6 hours of sleep a night, and it’s having a negative effect on a ton of other areas in my life, I’m going to want to focus on sleep first. The consequence of not getting enough sleep? Being grouchy, feeling like crap, skipping my workout because I’m too tired, not being able to focus on work, and the list goes on. So do you see how understanding the negative impact that a lack of sleep has on me makes all the difference? This means getting more sleep will be my number one goal to start with.
Now how can we apply this to your situation? Think about one area of your life you’d like to focus on. Is it joy, creativity, spirituality, your finances, your relationships, fitness, career, education, health, cooking, or something else? Now within that area, what ONE thing will have the biggest impact? For joy, it could be starting a gratitude practice. For spirituality, it could mean a daily meditation, for finances, it could mean saving $20 from every paycheck, fitness could be walking your dog every day, and so on...
The worksheet I designed will help guide you through all of this, so don’t worry about writing all of this down right now. Just start mentally brainstorming where you’d like to focus.
habit building Tip number 2: Take the “all or something” approach
Alright, so now that you’ve defined what goal you want to focus on, we’re gonna work on a simple mindset shift that is vital to your habit building success. Ready to hear it? It’s not “all or nothing”, it’s “all or something”. If you’re a regular follower of my work, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. But if you’re not, let me explain. When we have the attitude of “all or nothing” meaning...if I didn’t workout today, I might as well skip the rest of the week and start back up again on Monday...or worse...I skipped a day or two, so I failed, so I might as well give up...when we have that attitude, we’ll never actually create transformative habits that stick with us in the long term. Now here’s something you should know… most people aren’t doing something, without fail, every single day, for their entire lives.
Sure, you have habits like brushing your teeth, showering and all that, but those are habits that you built as a teeny weeny child. But the more difficult habits that require more brain power are things like exercise, eating healthy, etc. Those are habits that require a commitment, and a daily choice. You will have to choose over and over again to say “yes”, even if it’s a task you’re used to doing. So what does this mean? It means that if you’re human, you’ll have off days. Just like waves coming in and out of the shore, life ebbs and flows. We have ups and downs. It’s a part of the process. So it is NORMAL to have a day, a week, sometimes a few weeks when some of your habits fall to the wayside. That does NOT make you a failure. It means your priorities shifted for the time being.
So taking the all or something approach with your habits means allowing for off days, errors, seasons, etc. but still picking right back up where you left off. A great example of this in my own life is exercise. I’ve decided that working out is a really important habit that I want to practice for a lifetime. But it’s not always easy. Holiday and busy seasons usually means working out less for me. Sometimes I just have off weeks where I’m super emotional, tired, or whatever and I don’t workout. But because I understand the impact that exercise has on my life, it doesn’t take me long to remember how important this habit is to me.
So I pick right back up where I left off. I don’t waste time beating myself up for it, or feeling like it’s gonna suck because I worked so hard to get into shape and now I have to start back up at square one. If I need to, I’ll take it easy and work my way back up. It’s not a competition, what matters to me is that I show up. So how do you remember to show up in the first place? That leads us to step 3…
habit building Tip Number 3 :Revisit your goals daily
What does this mean? It means you create a system that requires you to check in with yourself on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be complicated...just take 5 minutes to pop in and remind yourself of what’s important to you. It should be just 1-3 items at any given time. Anymore than that, and you’ll get overwhelmed and shut down. Take the goals you’ve chosen in step 1, and use them to design your daily check in. How you check in will have to be up to you. I find that physically writing things down really solidifies things for me. So I will literally take out a notebook, write the date, and list the things I’m focusing on for the day/week. For you...it might be a reminder you set on your phone. A planner you schedule it all into. A morning text with a friend that’s also wanting to be held accountable. There are so many ways to do this, so experiment to find what works for you! But remind yourself every single day, until that item becomes a habit. Once it feels like second nature, swap it out for the next habit you’re looking to implement, and so on.
I imagine each year for you begins with a lot of motivation and thoughts of “this year will be different”. I’m sure you have this vision of how you want your life to look. So you create a bunch of resolutions. The first few weeks or so go smoothly...then it’s almost like you forget everything you wanted the year to become. That’s exactly why visiting your daily goals/visions will be a game changer for you! Imagine taking the steps to implement 1-3 new habits per week, or month. How would things shift for you? Where would you be at the end of 1 year? 5 years? Every tip I’ve given in this episode has completely transformed my life, and my level of productivity. If you implement this stuff and try it out for yourself, I guarantee it’ll change your life too.
Alright, friend! That’s all I have for you today. I’d love to hear your number one takeaway from this post. Comment below and tell me what you think!