The word habit often carries negative connotations, but a good habit is something worth developing. From finding a study routine that suits your personality to getting into a flow with household chores, tasks become easier when they are almost second nature. The benefits that come from things like a good exercise routine, diet regimen, or schedule for coursework are well worth the effort.
Making Changes That Stick
• Set a time frame of at least a month when looking to develop a habit, and re-evaluate after that time has passed. This is the conditioning phase, when you are getting used to doing something that you want to become a part of your everyday life.
• Be consistent, and do your task on schedule. If it's the kind of thing you do every day, make sure to set aside enough time. If you are tackling it less frequently, it's even more important to strictly adhere to the schedule you have set for yourself.
• Find a trigger and reminder. Use something as the impetus for your new behavior that will serve as the trigger. Additionally, something that is a simple reminder helps. Try anything from an app on your smartphone to a message from a friend who is committed to helping you develop your new habit.
• Choose the right habits, and take them on for yourself. Don't set upon making changes because you think it's what others expect of you. Turn your successful habits into expressions of what you want to do to better yourself, your relationships or your career.
• Trim the options. Essentially, this means narrowing your choices. Don't give yourself easy outs that allow you to pass on developing your habits. If you force yourself to get it done when it's hard, you'll do it almost automatically later. For example, don't give yourself multiple options for times to start studying. If it's possible, set a specific time and stick to it, so you'll be less likely to put it off.
Tracking Your Progress
Writing your goal down and checking that against how you are actually doing can serve as a great motivator. It doesn't matter how you track progress, just that you do so. Having a metric representing where you started, where you are now, and where you are going sets the stage for success.
Following a plan of attack increases the likelihood that your new behavior will transition into a full-blown habit. If the first couple of weeks seem difficult, remember the positives that come with sticking to the plan. If you are studying to get that degree or taking on a weight loss plan, it's the art of transforming the seemingly difficult into the seamless routine that will get you to where you want to be.