The Monotony of Success
Take stock of your everyday habits. You shower, brush your teeth, get dressed, wake up the kids, eat breakfast, walk the dog, and more. Before you even leave the house, you’ve accomplished probably a hundred small, necessary tasks and didn’t think twice about them, which is why it’s frustrating when you choose to pursue a good habit and fail to keep up with it.
The difference between the habits we take for granted and the ones we choose lies in our expectations. We pursue habits hoping that they will change us, and we get bored when we seem to be the same people every day. We assume that we’ve either made no progress or have done enough. What people don’t realize is that every small habit is a victory, and, by their nature, we’re never “done” with them.
In order to see our habits through, we need to view them less as goals to be accomplished in one grand, fell swoop, and more as what they are: essential building blocks that combine to make us who we are. Habits aren’t inherently exciting (nothing that you do every day is!), but there are simple ways to establish them in your schedule until they’re impossible to ignore.
Set Yourself Up For Success With Habit Cues
A study on habit formation in the British Journal of General Practice emphasized that healthy habits are longer lasting when paired with contextual cues. Much like it’s automatic to buckle your seatbelt when you get into a car, a habit becomes automatic when you make it an unquestioned part of your daily routine.
If you’re struggling to keep up with a habit, try focusing on the cues that will get you to do it. Taking a walk every day? Go outside for your lunch break. Need to connect with your clients more regularly? Reach out to one or two every morning while you drink your coffee. Your habit doesn’t need to be any more exciting than brushing your teeth. What’s important is that doing it every day makes you feel put together, while not doing it makes you feel uncomfortable.
Make A Habit Out Of Rewarding Yourself
The challenge in keeping our habits small and manageable is that it’s difficult to get excited about such incremental steps of progress. It’s important to see every day of habit completion as a victory, and celebrations should become as habitual as the habits themselves. Every time you keep up with a habit, celebrate. Grant yourself a few minutes of leisurely internet scrolling. Put on victory music of your choosing. Remember: habits are for the long haul and won’t be sustainable if we treat them like burdens. Make joy a regular part of your day.
Write Your Progress
Sometimes our habits are intangible, which makes it difficult to comprehend how much progress we’ve made, and easier to throw in the towel. A simple solution is to keep track of everyday habits in a journal. You can do as much as write a few paragraphs about what you did and how it made you feel or as little as keep a tally of the number of consecutive days you’ve stuck with the habit. Either way, it won’t take long for your record-keeping to reflect the time commitment you’ve put into your habit. Once you’re able to feel your progress in your hands or see it with your eyes, there is tangible motivation for continuing to grow and change.
Lean On Your Community
If we’ve said it before, we’ll say it again. You need community to help you meet your goals and, in this case, keep up with your habits. A study from the Association for Talent Development found that the effectiveness of sales training decreased from newer employees, who were held accountable to the training, to tenured employees who were left more to their own devices. You’re more likely to keep up a habit with or at the behest of someone else, so why not bring other people on board? The more you include other people in your habit-formation journey, the more likely it is that the habit will become a lasting part of your life.
There’s no getting around the fact that habits aren’t inherently exciting, but the moment you realize that you’ve changed your life for the better is worth any amount of boredom.
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