If you’ve ever set out to build new habits only to neglect them 4 months later, you’re not alone.
Back in 2020, there were habits I let slip more than usual, like running, healthy eating, and working out on a regular basis. (But we were in the middle of a freaking pandemic, so I gave myself a break).
When you’ve fallen off track, it’s tempting to feel like a failure and give up on creating new habits completely. But slipping up from time to time is all part of the journey of goal setting and building new habits into your daily routine. The important thing is that you pick yourself back up and try again (cue Rocky theme music).
If this is you, I thought it’d be helpful to show you exactly how to go about (re)building those habits.
Get Specific About Your Goal Setting
Simply saying “I want to read more” or “I want to exercise more” isn’t going to help you take action. But getting specific about what “more” means will help you track your habits and measure success. Set a specific amount of time each day. A fitness goal of mine is to spend at least 30 minutes a day exercising. And I have a workout routine picked out ahead of time. Being specific like that is a mental hack that makes your goals much easier to accept and accomplish.
When creating your goal, it’s important to fit it into what flow researchers call, The Flow State. If you set the bar too high (like writing 4 blog posts per day), you’ll create too much pressure on yourself and avoid the habit completely or burn out. But if it’s too easy (like writing only 1 blog post per day), it won’t be challenging enough to excite you.
Instead, you have to set a specific goal that stretches you just a little bit more than what you think you’re capable of. That’s the sweet spot.
A personal example of that is the traffic goals I have set for a new website. The first month hit 2,100 sessions. My lofty goal for the next month is 4,000 sessions. Will I hit that goal? Probably not, but I will sure as hell work to get as close to it as possible. And I’ll get better results versus putting a smaller goal out there.
Don’t wing it, Have a Plan In Place
To successfully build new habits, it’s important to put together a plan and give yourself a roadmap to follow. Ideally, you want to map out the first 30 to 100 days. After the 1st month make any necessary adjustments and keep moving forward.
For example, when I set my goal to read 2 books a month, I planned my first 100 days.
by picking out the first 6 books I wanted to read. By having the next book ready to go, I never lost momentum.
If you want to meditate daily you can find an app to start with and a plan for when you will meditate. Put it on your to-do list or add it to your calendar as a reminder to take action consistently. You can start with as little as 5 minutes per day to build that consistency and then increase the time from there. Again, have a plan in place with a specific amount of time you’re going to spend on the task.
While you’re looking at your calendar, keep an eye out for any events, travel, or work projects that may get in your way. Get ahead of the game and plan for the busiest days so you can keep up with the habit.
Create Accountability Through Friends and Social Media
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. At some point, you’re going to be tempted to skip a day or call it quits. That’s where accountability groups or partners come in.
When I set my reading goal, I held myself accountable by announcing it to my social media audiences. But you don’t need an audience for accountability. Simply letting those in your inner circle know what you’re working on will help you stay on track.
You can also find a workout buddy, join a like-minded group, or make a post on Instagram about why this habit is important to you.
When I was in the Marine Corps I had a workout buddy. During one of our off days, we had planned on going to the gym and working out. I had other plans; stay in bed. Well, my workout buddy walked into my room, grabbed my ankle, and literally pulled me off the top bunk. He was the best accountability buddy I’ve ever had.
Put Your Plan Into Action!
Whether or not you follow these steps, I wish you all the best in building your new habits this year. Remember, creating new habits is a long game, so be sure to focus on taking it one day at a time.
Set your goal, make any necessary preparations, and execute that plan. Good luck!