Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Getting into the Groove

Forming a new habit is tough, whether it's exercising, trying to read every day, remembering to put away the basket of laundry always sitting in the corner of the room, cutting out sugar or trying not to be so addicted to checking emailing or Facebook. When I decided to really finish my first book, I had no idea how challenging it would be to slip into a routine of writing every day. It took a lot of practice, lots of grumbling that it shouldn't be so hard and lots of time rebuilding the habit after I inevitably let it slide when I decided life was just too crazy to keep up with it.

But all that is just an excuse. Plain and simple. If you want something bad enough, you have to work for it no matter what life is throwing at you at the moment, and there is always something. The things I'm most proud of myself for accomplishing are the things that took effort and hard work. Lots and lots of hard work. And that's the problem when we're all living in a world where life is in many ways getting easier. Technology has given everyone a helping hand, whether it's with washing dishes, painting a house, writing a book or even staying in touch with friends across the globe. And it's making most of us lazier and less driven to work as hard for the things we  want.

So in the face of everything working against us (and some days it really does feels that way) here's a few tips for building a new habit.

1. You have to want it.

Seems straight forward, but if you're not committed, it's not gonna happen. If you only half wish you could climb three flights of stairs without feeling like you need a lung transplant, you're not going to want to do what it takes, let alone actually get off your butt and do the work. Knowing why you want to form this new habit is really important too.

I love writing, always have and always will, but it can be tricky keeping myself on track and motivated just out of love. I want to continue to get paid doing what I love, so that's certainly motivation, but you know what else I've discovered that writing lets me do? Travel. If my books are selling then I'm in a better position to travel, and since I have a huge list of places I want to see someday, I know that I need to stay focused on writing so I can make that happen.

2. Be prepared to work for it.

Unless you're one of those crazy gifted people who can randomly pick up a sock and turn it into a floral arrangement on the first try, then "try, try again" will need to become part of your mantra. There will be days where your goal is the absolute last thing you may feel like doing, and the second that thought enters your head, you need to drag your butt up and do it.

3. Be accountable.

Telling other people what you're up to can help make you more accountable. If staying away from Facebook isn't a goal, then post what you're planning to do on there and report back later whether or not you made it happen.

4. Don't procrastinate.

If you only have one thing to stop procrastinating with, let it be the new habit you're trying to build. Get it done as early in the day as you can and get it over with. Work out in the morning or right after you get home after work. Put away the laundry as soon as it's done drying. Believe me, there will be plenty of other things in the day you can put off until later, but not that one new goal you've set for yourself each day.

5. Track your progress.

Stick big smiley face stickers on a calendar on the fridge to mark your daily success. Or try an app like Habit Streak and enjoy the awesome feeling that comes from watching yourself run a long streak. Don't forget to reward yourself for sticking with a new habit.

 So what new habit do you want to get started on, or what old habit are still trying to make stick?


Meg Benjamin said...

My strength training instructor says it takes about a month to establish something as a habit, not just something you're trying to remember to do. Core exercises fall into that category for me.

Sydney Somers said...

So true. Wouldn't it be so much easier if it only took a week to make something ingrained like that? :)