11 Steps to a New Creative Habit in 30 days
1. Start small and singular
Choose a goal that is meaningful to you: Going for a walk every day, making a small sketch in your notebook, or meditating for ten minutes a day, for example.
Keep it small and do-able at first. And keep it singular, just one new habit you are taking on for now. You can always add more time or another habit later.
Start small and build on your successes. Success creates powerful momentum. Failure also creates momentum, for more failure. So you want to set yourself up to succeed, by starting small and do-able.
Plan to do it every day for 30 days or at least 5 days a week. It is most likely to become a true habit, if you can do this. But it could be something like going to the gym three times a week.
2. Connect to your deep why
The only reason to choose new healthy habits is to support something we truly desire or value in our lives — better health, more creativity, more peace, better relationships.
Be clear why you want this new habit, what it is meant to give you, what core values it is connected to. You could write about this. Get clear and connected to it in your heart, and reconnect to this deep why any time you find resistance rearing its head.
This is the fuel to power your habit. Without it, your habit is just another “should,” and we don’t need any more of those in our lives!
3. Commit to Your Goal 100% for 30 days
This is your most important step. Make a complete heart-commitment to your goal. Keep this commitment as if your life, depended on it. Imagine that your doctor has told you that you will die unless you do this thing every day for 30 days, no matter what.
Usually we fail at our goals because we were never fully committed to them in the first place. We were always expecting to give up or fail or give ourselves an out. Instead, put your whole heart in it, but only for 30 days.
Let yourself know that after 30 days, you can stop. If we try to take on a new habit for life, that’s incredibly daunting. We’re almost bound to start missing days right off, and pretty soon find ourselves not doing it at all.
If, on the other hand, you know it’s just for 30 days, you can commit all out to most things. This isn’t just a trick. You really are going to give yourself the option to stop after 30 days. Read on!
4. Link it to another habit
Ideally, connect your new habit to something you already do. For instance, right after your morning coffee, practice meditation for 10 minutes, or go for a walk on your lunch break.
If at all possible, do your new habit at the same time each day or in the same flow of other activities. You are way more likely to remember it, and it’s easier for it to become a habit when connected to another habit.
5. Track it
This one simple step can make a big difference in your success at forming a new habit. Mark it on a calendar every time you do it. You might choose to get colorful stars or stickers to make it more fun and appealing. As silly as that seems, the positive inner boost of a colorful star, as opposed to a simple checkmark, is powerful.
If you don’t track your progress, it is very easy to mislead yourself about how often you are or are not doing your new habit, and also simply to forget to do it. Tracking gives you a small, but significant, emotional boost that creates momentum for the next day. This has been proven.
6. Celebrate daily
This is one step most people miss, and it really costs them enjoyment and ease in forming a new habit. Every day that you do your new habit, celebrate that you did it. Go overboard with self-appreciation. Acknowledge yourself enthusiastically the way you might encourage a small child who was learning something new and important. You’ll be amazed what a difference a little appreciation makes.
I tried to form a consistent habit of flossing my teeth for years. It wasn’t until I started writing in my journal “flossed!” each day, that suddenly it was easy. That little exclamation point made all the difference.
7. If you miss a day, move on
Don’t beat yourself up for forgetting or missing a day. And, by all means, don’t try to make up for it by doing extra the next day. This is a pernicious form of self-sabotage.
Simply acknowledge consciously that you missed a day. Allow yourself to feel any frustration or disappointment. Then let it go, and move on.
Recommit 100% to your goal for the remainder of the 30 days. Don’t start the 30 days over. Keep going!
8. Acknowledge resistance, but don’t let it stop you
If, on any given day, you are feeling a lot of resistance to your new habit, pause and let yourself acknowledge the resistance. Feel it and choose to move past it. It’s just a choice, and you do have power to make that choice. (Remember, your life depends on it!)
If you notice yourself falling into avoidance patterns like “I’ll just check my email first” or “I’ll just put in a load of laundry first” before doing your new habit, stop! Allowing resistance to win at all will only make it harder.
You don’t need to summon your inner taskmaster. That will make you want to rebel. Instead, summon your inner good parent and be gentle but firm with yourself. It will be over in 15 minutes anyway (depending on your habit).
9. Have accountability and support
Have someone you can check in briefly with every day when you do your goal step (and also when you miss it). A brief note by text or email is great for this.
Knowing someone else is paying attention and celebrating along with you is a huge boost to forming a new habit. Best of all is if your buddy is also forming a new habit at the same time. It doesn’t have to be the same habit.
10. Plan a reward at the end
At the start, decide what reward you will give yourself when you complete the 30 days. Choose something you really want or that will feel good. You could get yourself some kind of gift or give yourself a pleasurable experience.
Keep your promise to yourself and give yourself this reward at the end (as long as you haven’t completely fallen off the wagon).
11. When you’re done, evaluate
At the end of the 30 days, look at your tracking calendar. See how many days you did your goal. If you missed any days, what happened?
What did you learn from doing this? How did your new habit benefit you? What were the challenges you encountered? What did you and didn’t you like about it?
Do you want to choose to keep doing this habit for another 30 days? Do you want to modify it to suit you better or increase or add to it? Do you want to stop doing it, celebrate what you got and move on? Perhaps try something else instead?
Most of all, celebrate yourself and what you did and what you discovered.
Download my free e-book The 6 Essential Ingredients of a Brilliant Life: For Artists and Dreamers of All Kinds at http://www.brilliantplayground.com/6essentials/