By Leo Babauta
So the month is starting and you’re ready to start your new habit (whether that’s the current module or some other habit) … let’s get you set up for maximum chances of success.
One thing I’ve learned through years of habit changes is that when people fail, it’s most often because they didn’t prepare and didn’t do the things that help them succeed.
What kinds of things lead to failure? Just starting the habit and expecting to remember and do it without fail. Missing a day and not doing anything to ensure that doesn’t happen again. Putting temptations in front of you if you’re trying to break an old habit. Not getting support from the people around you.
These things very often lead to failure. Let’s look at some ways to set yourself up for success:
- Really commit to the habit. Most people just half-commit to the habit and expect that’s going to work, and wonder why they can’t make a habit stick. You have to fully commit. That means write the habit down. Make a written plan — what’s your trigger, what’s your accountability, what’s your motivation, how will you remember. Tell as many people as possible about it, and (this is important) ask them to hold you accountable.
- Set calendar & physical reminders so you’ll remember to do the habit. In the beginning, remembering is one of the hardest things. I like sticky notes for physical reminders. For meditation, if you use a meditation cushion, put it in your bedroom doorway or some other place you won’t forget. Put something on top of your cellphone or laptop so you won’t miss it.
- Mentally change your identity. Tell yourself, “I don’t eat sugar” or “I choose and work on my Most Important Task every morning” or “I meditate daily”. It’s now who you are, not something you’re going to try to do.
- Create your accountability system.
- Set up your environment. If you’re trying not to eat sugar, get rid of all the sugar in your house. If you’re trying not to procrastinate, close your browser and turn off your cellphone before working on an important task. Talk to your significant other and friends about supporting you. Find healthy snacks to meet the sweet craving. Do whatever you can to create an environment that’s set up for your success — most environments are not, but you can change that.
- Build trust in yourself. Past experiences might have taught you that you are going to have a hard time with habit changes, but actually they were the result of a method that didn’t work — you can change the method. And prove to yourself, one small step of the time, that you are trustworthy and capable of doing this.
Hope that was helpful — these are tips I’ve found to work, and I highly encourage you to take them today.