You’re not like everyone else. They will wait until the 1st of January to make a New Year’s Resolution, that they’ll probably break within a few week’s time, a few months at the very most. You’re not going to wait til then and want to make a head start right now. Unfortunately, you only have 24 hours in a day and a finite amount of energy as well. You’re determined. You want change. You don’t want to give up. That’s why you shouldn’t put in more effort to stick to your habits.
That’s right, you shouldn’t put in more effort, that’s not a typo. Don’t worry if you’re confused, it will all make sense by the end of this post. You’re about to learn how to make new habits that stick with minimal or no extra effort.
Most people take the wrong approach with trying to build good habits. They try to do too much and as a result, they become tired or feel like they don’t have the stamina to keep going. If you can embed your habit in your day to day routine and make it more mindless, you’ll be surprised how easy it might be to make a good habit stick.
Let me give you an example. It’s winter and you’re determined to keep continuing with your habit of having a jog every morning. Most people will struggle to do this because they have to will themselves to put on their jogging gear and their runners then get out the door.
What if instead of having your runners by the front door, you have them next to your bed. Instead of putting on your fluffy pink slippers, you actually put your runners on first thing in the morning? Two things happen: one, your brain suddenly switches to running mode. Second, you didn’t have to think about running. You’re already primed to do it because of the shoes.
By “embedding” the process of putting running shoes on, the habit of running becomes that much easier to stick to.
For some reason, people tend to think that making a good habit has to be something you do by yourself. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Having an accountability partner, coach or team is one of the easiest “hacks” you can use to make and stick to a good habit.
For example, I play badminton as part of a local team. I know how lazy I am, so having a team that relies on me to come every week gives me a much greater reason to stick to consistently playing. It certainly helps that I enjoy the sport, but the real secret here is having a team that I’m accountable to.
We’re all social creatures. We need positive reinforcement from good people around us. Not taking advantage of this is silly when it’s so simple to do.
Less Is More
Put your hand up if you’re guilty of biting off more than you can chew. Anyone? My hand’s up. I’m ambitious. You are too. You’re probably smarter than I am because I’ve broken so many good habits by trying to do too much.
Mark my words: it’s better to do less but do it consistently than do more and stop doing it after a while. It doesn’t matter that what you’re doing might not be spectacular. I can almost guarantee that there are millions of people in the world who aren’t doing what you do.
There’s a great app I discovered last year called Duolingo. It’s a cool app that makes learning a new language fun. You choose your language and do exercises until you complete each stage. You level up, just like in a video game. It counts how many days you have been learning the language for.
Here’s the kicker: you can choose how many lessons you want to do per day. The app will count the days regardless, as long as you’re consistent. I currently do three French lessons a day. I started on December the 1st, 2014. I was a bit “start stop” at the beginning, but I’m in the middle of my longest streak, 45 days.
If you want to increase your upper body strength, do one push up a day. One. Don’t laugh, some people won’t (or can’t) even do that.
Habits are the mark of success. Smart people will make it easier on themselves by embedding it into their everyday process, being accountable and doing less but consistently. Which approach will work best for you?
Johnson Kee is based in Melbourne, Australia. He is the founder of TribeGuy.com, a passionate community of leaders looking to build their own tribes.