Posted: 01 Feb 2013 08:19 AM PST
By Leo Babauta
The hardest thing for most people, when it comes to building habits, is sticking to it long enough for it to become ingrained.
It’s why most people don’t exercise or eat healthy, why people procrastinate or have clutter or debt, why people smoke and drink soda, why people don’t meditate or learn new languages or write everyday or read more books.
Simply put: if you can learn to stick to a habit, you can do almost anything. I’m a good example of that.
So how do you stick to a habit? I’m going to make this as simple as possible — let’s dive in.
Why You Don’t Stick to a Habit
The most common reasons people don’t stick to a habit:
There are other reasons too: people actively discourage you from changing, or you think negative thoughts about your ability to change, or you overdo it in the beginning and then run out of enthusiasm.
The Rules for Sticking to a Habit
Now that we know all that we’re up against, it seems pretty tough, no? Actually, it’s not easy, but it’s definitely doable. Anything worth doing is going to take some work. You just need to set your mind to doing something tough, and be OK with a little discomfort.
That said, I have a set of rules to follow if you want to actually stick to new habits. Now, you can ignore these rules, as most people do, and increase your likelihood of failure. Or you can try the rules, and see if they work for you (each person is different, so you have to figure out your own formula).
Here are the rules:
How to Learn the Habit Skill
That might all seem like a lot to learn at once. That’s OK. We’re going to learn it simply and easily. Here’s how:
Do the easiest possible habit when you first start.
If you’re not good at habits yet (and if you’re reading this guide, you probably aren’t), then start with the most basic skills — don’t try to do ninja habit skills yet.
You want to practice the habit rules by doing something crazily easy. It will seem a little ridiculous, but spend a little time doing something ridiculous if you really want to be good at it.
Some ideas for habits to start with:
Too easy? Try something harder, and if you fail, then promise me you’ll try one of these.
If you need some help with forming habits, consider joining my Sea Change Program. I’ll give you the accountability and reminders you need, along with some guidance each month, and you can form new habits along with everyone else in the program.
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