Self-improvement is never ending. Whether you are trying to improve your career, health, finances, business, or relationships, you will never stop.
And, that’s good thing!
Life is nothing without growth. Regardless of whatever area you are working on, new habits need to be formed. There’s a simple strategy to form any habit.
I’m going to walk you through how to form any habit in 6 simple steps. When you are on your journey to self-improvement, follow this roadmap to make your habits stick long-term.
#1 Create Accountability for Your New Habit
Studies have shown that people are more likely to achieve their goals when someone is watching or holding them accountable.
When you decide to form a new habit, spread the word! Get specific with the habit you want to form, how long it will take you to form it, and what you are going to do to ensure your habit becomes a routine.
Share your plan on social media, or take it a step further, and start a blog! Blogging is a great way to share your journey, track your progress, and share with others. Social accountability may be exactly what you need to stay consistent when forming your habits.
#2 Stay Consistent for at least 30 Days
Everyone has a different opinion on how long it takes for a habit to become a routine. Some research shows 21 days, while other studies show it can take 60 days. All that means is that we all respond differently.
You need to find your sweet spot for building habits, so start with staying consistent for a minimum of 30 days. Make the decision to dedicate time every day to your new habit. Whether it’s making better decisions with your eating, or making it a point to track your spending, you should have time designated every day to work on your new habit.
#3 Think Through Obstacles Before they Happen
Every new habit you want to form will have obstacles. Until your habit becomes ingrained in your routine, you will need to consciously make the effort to perform the task, regardless of what may be stopping you.
Common obstacles that stop people from staying consistent with building their habits include:
You will need to have a contingency plan for anytime an obstacle comes your way and tests your ability to complete the habit. Here are some examples of common obstacles and the plan to push through them:
“If I can’t go for a walk outside because of rain, then I will go to the gym or work out at home instead.”
“If I don’t have time to read career development books during the day, then I will wake up 30 minutes earlier every day to read.”
“If I can’t afford to work with a finance coach, then I will do self-study work every week instead.”
Your ability to overcome obstacles when building new habits is directly related to how bad you want to form the habit. This is also where accountability can come in. Share your obstacles with your audience and see what ideas they can share with you to help you bounce back.
Consistency is key when forming any new habit, so regardless of your obstacle, you need to fight through it!
#4 Start Small
We’ve all been there – including me. We start the new year off with a list of everything we plan to change. Then, we go hard for a few weeks and then lose that momentum.
Before we know it, progress is farther away than before we started! While it’s great to tap into the motivation of a “fresh start” that comes with the New Year, you need to start small.
When you go so hard with a new habit or potential routine, you can quickly burn yourself out. Burn out quickly leads to inaction. Inaction leads to delayed progress, or worse… no progress!
The trick is to start small with your actions. The effort is minimal on your part, but you start forming the habits when you stay consistent.
Develop Good Habits hit the nail on the head, “The idea here is to create a micro-commitment where it’s impossible to fail. It’s more important to stay consistent and not miss a day than it is to hit a specific milestone. What you’ll find is that when you have a low level of commitment, you’ll be more likely to get started.”
#5 Celebrate Victories
No matter how big or small your victory is, celebrate it! Give yourself a pat on the back because you won. You stayed consistent with your actions for a week straight! You lost a pound because you got up and walked for 20 minutes every day, even when you didn’t want to.
Since motivation isn’t always enough to keep you consistent with your new habits, you need something else to keep you going. Let progress and consistency be that something else.
#6 Reward Milestones
When you hit big milestones in your progress, you need to take celebration to another level by rewarding yourself. Rewards don’t have to come in the form of spending money. It can simply be treating yourself to your favorite movie, indulging in an iced coffee, or taking a day off from the gym.
Building a reward system into your process of forming new habits can help you stay engaged and give you something to work towards. If I know that a gourmet iced coffee is waiting for me after a week of not spending, I will be more likely to stay on track.
The great thing about rewards is that you can make it work for you. Think about things you enjoy doing and factor that in when you hit important milestones in your progress.
Related: Effectively Setting New Year Intentions
If forming new habits was easy, everyone would be doing it. However, following the strategies above when working on your new habits can help build lifelong routines.
Progress comes with consistency, in any area, so put yourself in a position to succeed by making sure you stay on track with your new habits. This is especially important in the beginning. And trust me, before you know it, you won’t think twice about your new habit!
Do you have any tips on how to form any habit? What was the last habit you formed that turned into a consistent routine? What was the last habit that fell by the wayside? Share your experiences with myself and other CGS readers by posting a comment below.