5 Tips to Build New Habits

Diogo Mateus
Oct 1, 2018 · 3 min read

Everyone heard that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but how do you keep committed during that time?

Motivation is short lived and doesn’t lead to consistent action. In this article I’ll share 5 tips that will help you keep committed to your new habit!

1. Write it down

People who explicitly write down when and where their new behaviours are going to happen are much more likely to succeed.

By doing this, your goal has a time and a space to live in the real world, which triggers your behaviour instead of your motivation.

Here’s an example:

Next Thursday at 18:00, I will run for at least 20 minutes in the park near my building.

So start by writing what you want to do next. A notebook is more effective, but you may use a todo app on your smartphone, or specify an event on your calendar.

2. The 2 minute rule

When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do. That’s the 2 minute rule, but the idea behind it is to Start Simple — don’t try to completely change your life in one day.

Make your habits as easy as possible to start. Anyone can read 2 pages, or meditate for one minute. Once you’ve started doing the right thing, it is much easier to keep doing it.

3. Keep track

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

This is an important quote when it comes to businesses, but it’s also helpful when forming new habits. Keeping track of your new habit constantly reminds you of them it you’ll get motivated as you see your progress.

If your goal is to read more books per year, start a Goodreads challenge, if you want to start running, install Strava on your phone. For other habits you may want to create repeating events on your calendar or alarms on your phone.

4. Act Immediately

At some point, during your first weeks of forming a new habit, you’ll feel like skipping it. You’ll have thoughts like:

“Maybe it’s not as important to me as I thought.”

“Tomorrow I’ll definitely get back to it!”

This moment sneaks up on you when you are feeling overconfident, but make no mistake, this is the single most important moment when forming any habit. Failing once is enough to lose the habit altogether.

At that point the answer is to stop thinking and act immediately.

If you push past it, you validate your drive to form the habit. Then, if this happens again, you’ll be able to overcome it as you did before.

5. Journaling

“Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.” — Robin S. Sharma

Overall, journaling has been found to boost your mood, enhance your sense of well-being and improve your working memory.

Here’s how you can apply journaling to create new habits:

  • Before going to bed, spend 5 minutes thinking of what you want to accomplish and write that down
  • Write down problems you are facing and questions you have and then try to find ways of overcoming them
  • You can also be doing this in the morning, where you’ll be planning your today

This can go hand in hand with the first point.

Finally, think of which distractions are keeping you from achieving your goals and then find creative solutions. If you spend too much time on Facebook, install a Chrome extension that blocks it. If you are struggling to go to the gym, try to pack your bag the night before.

You may think of rewards for when you are on track and small punishments for when you don’t.

Keep asking why, so you remember why you started in the first place and to refresh that initial motivation.

Some of these technics won’t work with you, but by trying them you’ll get to know yourself a bit better and will be able to figure out what actually works.

Good luck!

Thanks to Luís Soares

Diogo Mateus

Written by

Software Engineer living in London

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