Continuing on from last weeks post about SMART goals and to hit actually hit them, you really need habits/systems in place to get you there.
SMART is a great way to set you up, but habits and systems is where you really get things done.
So here are my top tips in forming habits:
To make a good Habit you need to make it easy to do, this has a lot to do with the set-up of your environment.
If you want to go running every morning, lay your running gear out the night before. If you want to eat more fruit, make the fruit easily accessible by putting it out in a fruit bowl in the middle of the kitchen table.
A lot of what we do it down to ease and comfort, it’s why binge watching tv series on Netflix is so easy to get sucked into! As once you finish one episode the next one is starting, before you know it you’re 2 seasons in and it’s 3am!
If you want to stop a bad habit of yours all you need to do is the opposite and make it hard to do, but again you can change you environment to help you massively with this.
Here are a few examples of changing bad habits…
1. If you want to stop checking your phone so much, put it in another room whilst you work.
2. If you want to use your games console less, unplug it after each use and put it in a cupboard. This makes it a big effort for you to then get it out, plug it in and start to play and makes a book that you’ve left purposefully on your coffee table much more appealing and therefore more likely to be done.
Another way of improving your habits is called Habit Stacking. The idea here is that you pick something you do already and then after you’ve done that habit you then introduce a new habit that you then want to do…
e.g. After I have my morning coffee (something you do already) I will do 5 minutes of Yoga (a new habit you want to pick up) Once this has done I will then get dressed into my work clothes but put the book I’m currently reading on my bed to read tonight (a new habit you want to pick up) so when you go to get into bed your book is already there.
The possibilities of this really are endless and the end result is that this because autonomous. This then eventually turns into a habit such as walking into a dark room and going straight for the light switch. That is how basic you can go with habits.
Habit Stacking to Tracking
Tracking your habits is a sure way to improve your accountability and to keep it up in the long run. If you miss a day it’s not the end of the world, just start again the following day. The trick is not to let it snowball into 2 days missed, then 3 days missed etc etc.
Something to note however, is knowing when number tracking is good to use and also when not good to use… a great example is using your weight on the scales to track your progress .
The number on the scales might not be going down as fast as you’d like it to, so you could track other areas such as how much more energy you feel you have or how your skin is changing. The main point from this is that just because it’s measurable doesn’t mean you should use it!
This time of year everyone likes to go all out and make massive goals for ourselves and do everything at once. We’ve all heard people say I’m going to quit smoking, join the gym to lose 15 pounds take up a language and learn take that cooking course I always wanted.
99.9% of times doing all of this at once is just a recipe for disaster! If you were to do all that you’d 1. Be a completely different person to who you are now and 2. You’d last a few weeks at best and before you know it you’d be back in your old routines.
A way around all this is to pick 1 maybe 2 to focus on and start really small.
A substitute to taking French classes could be to download flashcards on your phone and do 2 minutes a day, slowly increasing your time spent doing them as the weeks progress.
Similar for the gym you could start doing a 5 minute workout at home to start getting you used to doing some light exercises. As with the French you could then slowly increase the amount of time spent on that task as you become more accustomed to it.
One More Thing
Lastly one thing to remember with our habits, goals systems etc is that we often expect a straight line increase in progress the more we practice doing something. In reality the results of our efforts are often delayed and only really come to show themselves months or even years down the line.
This can result in the early stages of being stuck in what some people call ‘The valley of disappointment’ which is where you can feel discouraged and disheartened after putting in work for weeks and months but not seeing much if any returns on your efforts.
You must always look to the bigger picture and know that the work was not wasted, it is just being stored and compounded as you put in the graft. It is only a lot later that the value of all your efforts is revealed!
Hope you got some good ideas from this post about how to go about making systems and habits that will propel yourselves towards your goals in 2019!
If you have any questions or want help with your habits or goals, don’t hesitate to message me and I’ll be happy to help! For further reading, the book I got this from is called Atomic Habits. What I told you only scratches the surface, so if you want to really dive into changing your habits and life I can’t recommend this book more highly.