I’ve got goals, desires, dreams, and expectations that I’m just itching to check off my list. Have a successful business. Get healthy. Organize my house. I bet you’ve got some goals, desires, dreams, and expectations too. But, just having them is half of the equation. Creating good habits to do those “big things” is the other half.
You set a goal, jump in with two feet, and despite your best efforts and determination you fall flat on your face and sabotage those goals. Does that sound familiar to you? If it does, then welcome to the “I’m All In It Until I Aint Club!”
I used to bite off more than I could chew, run out of steam, or slink away defeated until I discovered some bad habits that were keeping me from making good habits and getting me on the way to checking off my goals.
We all do it. We tell ourselves we’re going to do something, and then we end up not sticking to that plan. Here are some common reasons why we don’t stick with things:
- When the going gets tough we run. We run from discomfort. We run from uncertainty. We run when our friends don’t support us. Things don’t go as planned? We hightail it!
- We rationalize. We make all kinds of excuses to let ourselves off the hook. “’ I’ll work on the project more tomorrow, I deserve a break,” Just one more cookie won’t hurt,” “I’ve had a long day. I’ll work out tomorrow,” “I made 3 phone calls today, why should I make 5?” “I’ll get to organizing that drawer next week,” and on and on the excuses and rationalizing go.
- We take our eyes off the prize. We get bogged down with responsibilities, setbacks, and life in general that we forget to keep our goal/dream/desire front and center. It’s easy to give up on things when life gets in the way.
- We expect perfection. We set the bar to the highest extreme and extend very little grace to ourselves and won’t settle for anything but perfection.
Ways to Make a Good Habit Stick
It’s important to be mindful and not rush the process of creating good habits that stick. Play the long game, be patient, have lots of grace for yourself, and go at it with a reasonable and sustainable pace.
Here are eight tips to keep in mind:
- Start simple and think small. Many people want to create a big change quickly so they set unreasonable goals for themselves like having a 6-figure income in the first quarter, losing 50 lbs in a month, running a full marathon in 6 weeks or organizing an entire house in a day. They set themselves up for disappointment when they jump in and expect extreme results quickly. Instead, opt for baby steps and ease into the habit. Opt to do things like making phone calls and doing general business networking five days a week for 1 hour, working out for 30 minutes every other day, running a mile every other day for the first week and then two miles the second week, and organizing just one room each day or week. Rome wasn’t built in a day and good habits aren’t either!
- Track your progress. Notice your effort. It’s important to keep track of the activity you’re doing so it’s easy to see where you may need to tweak things. It’s also important to notice your effort and give yourself a pat on the back.
- Reward yourself along the way. Celebrating yourself is crucial for your motivation. Reward yourself, be good to yourself, speak affirming words to yourself each step of the way. You are a work-in-progress.
- Remind yourself. Create some anchors that remind you why you set out to create a good habit in the first place. Keep a pic of your business, a photo of the outfit you want to fit into, a medal for the race you completed in your line of sight (refrigerator, bathroom mirror, your desk) so you don’t forget why you started on the journey in the first place.
- Give yourself permission to be imperfect. You’re not going to get it right every time. You’ll have setbacks. You’ll mess up. You’ll get frustrated. That’s okay. That’s normal. Perfection is a myth.
- Get used to saying the word “but”. When you start to think thoughts or say negative words about yourself, use the word “but” to interrupt yourself. “I may not be good at this now, but I’ll only get better.” “I may not be able to run a marathon now, but I will one day.”
- Surround yourself with supporters. One way to dramatically increase your success is to have people in your corner to cheer you on. If you want to get healthy then hang out with healthy people. If you want your business to be successful then hang out with successful business owners. Create a support group of people who inspire you, who are role models, and who will be there for you no matter what.
- Do it for you. Don’t create a good habit because you’ve been told to. Should haves, would haves and could haves are self-defeating. Guilt and surface-level intentions will get you nowhere. Play big, not small! Create a good habit for you and only you. Create a habit that will make you feel accomplished.
Do you have some bad habits that are keeping you from goals, dreams, and aspirations? What good habits are you trying to master? Go easy on yourself. Give yourself a few weeks (or a few months depending on the degree of difficulty) for your habit to be second nature to you. Be patient, give yourself unlimited amounts of grace, and be sure and celebrate your big and little wins.
Before you know it, you’ll be able to put a big fat checkmark ✔ next to that habit you’ve mastered and you’ll be on your way to accomplishing that “thing” you’ve been pursuing. Friend, I’m proud of you already!