Series How to Be Resilient: Good Habits for Changemakers — 8 Steps to Success with Small Habits
What if I told you that you could succeed with small habits?
After trying and failing so many times to create the new, more positive habits you crave, is it any wonder that by now you’re probably a little gun-shy about the process? But the truth is, most attempts at forming new habits fail, simply because you’ve tried to bite off more than you can chew. Using small habits instead, you approach your life in a new way, by taking charge in tiny bite-size chunks. Meaning that not only is change possible but so is the ability to become that person you always knew you could be.
How do you create a small habit successfully?
1. Don’t try to change the world overnight. Start with just one new habit and then go from there. Like switching the light off for sleep half and hour earlier than normal. That’s it — your new habit is on it’s way to forming.
2. Make a commitment. Not every habit is created equal, and some take longer to embed in your mind than others. But, one thing is true. The longer you perform the same activity day after day, the more success you will have in creating that habit. Decide right now that you’re going to give this new habit at least 3–4 weeks to give it a proper start. Just a month of sticking with it. If it just doesnt feel right you won’t have wasted time, you will have learnt a lot because you will now know what you didnt like, what you gravitated towards instead, what felt slightly OK and from there you can shape a new experiment for next month.
3. Link the habit to something that already works. If you have a successful habit already in place, ask yourself what small thing you can attach to that habit. For example, you might already be brushing your teeth every day. How hard would it be to add flossing to that routine?
4. Keep it small. Knowing that most habit formation fails because you’re trying to do too much too soon, then make a point to keep the changes very small. Mini-habits have a much higher rate of success than trying to create a great big change.
5. Have a disaster plan in place. Knowing that things are going to go wrong from the start helps you to be ready when they do. Can’t jog today because it’s raining? That’s ok, you’ve got an entirely different workout in place as a Plan B.
6. Grab a friend. The only way to keep on track, especially when building habits, is to use your network. Have an accountability partner or use social media to keep you honest.
7. Reward yourself. Celebrate every little milestone with a reward, something that makes sense and will encourage you to keep going when you’re flagging.
8. Redefine yourself. Accept that this is the new you. The habits you’re building are going to change who you are — hopefully for the better. Embrace your new identity and start embedding the mindset of who you are becoming.
By following these steps, you not only will succeed when applying small habits to your life but over time you’ll see some amazing growth and development as a person. That’s pretty exciting, especially when you consider how little you had to do to get there.
This article is part of my July series on Good Habits For Changemakers: How To Develop A Resilient Mindset … so watch this space for more ideas and support.
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