Creating New Habits Pt. 1

How to Create New Habits and Stick to Them

You know it. You set your goals, get excited about them and even start pursuing them. But after just few days, something happens and you are unable to progress. You start regressing and before you know it, you are where you began. A good example of this is New Year’s resolution. Why is that ?

This blog post is about creating habits and ensuring you stick to them long term.

Identify Your Why

The biggest problem when it comes creating and sticking to habits is identifying your why. People often think they know it. And yes, they have it but typically it is not good enough. Having a why good enough is exactly what makes or breaks your efforts.

To identify a great “why”, we need to be in touch and honest with ourselves so we know that the why sparks our emotions. The excellent reasons (your why) to stick with your new habits are always emotional, not logical.

A good example of that are different religious groups or groups of activists. Have you ever tried arguing with them? Present logical things to them? If you have, you know how fast they can dismiss all your evidence because their emotions get in their way. We all do it to some extend.

Imagine having the same conviction as they have when it comes to creating new habits for yourself, new lifestyle or anything it is you want to create for yourself. It would be a piece of cake!

Let’s take for example vegans. They tend to have bad reputation for pushing their beliefs onto other people, which can be even counter-productive. But that is the kind of passion you want. They also have different reasons to follow that kind of diet or lifestyle. We all know about animal-rights activists, but there are vegans who do it for health benefits, weight loss or any multitude of reasons. I myself stepped into the vegan world for egoistick reason, however that allowed me to open myself to other things later (I will continue with this example in the next steps).

Let Go of How

If you keep asking “But how do I…?” than focus on your why. Let go of the how to questions, you will figure it later along the way. People who keep stuck in the how to questions do so because they are afraid to take the next step. They want to have everything outlined for them but even then they will not take the action! I wrote a different article about the problem with how questions.

Start Somewhere, Anywhere

Now that you have a compelling reason to do it, to take action, just take action. Finding a reason why was there as a building block to make starting easier.

Some people are naturally better at starting things than the other but the trade-off is that they have problems sticking to what they’ve started. On the other side we have people who have problems starting things but can keep it for longer time. This is something you need to practice if you have problems starting. Just stat, it doesn’t need to be perfect!

There are typically three different situations that prevent people to start besides not having a compelling reason.

The first on the list is neurotic perfectionism. If you need to have everything in place and perfectly aligned and nothing is enough, chances are you are a perfectionist. On one side it is good to have attention to detail that perfectionists posses, on the other hand it if you are a perfectionist it will prevent you from being effective and productive.

Think about companies like Microsoft or Amazon or any company that you like. There is not a single company that started big. All the companies start from the idea, from the scratch with one or two people and they build up, refine, upgrade, perfect things along the way.

When I started this blog, it looked nothing like it is now. I had several posts that never got published because I was thinking they were not good enough. That behaviour only led to empty blog with multiple drafts. And like I said I did it because I was thinking I was not good enough, that my content was not good enough and I was worried what people might think. I was seeking external validation and there was not magic trick involved in me breaking-through, it was simple practice of publishing things even if they were not perfect.

Next on the list is getting ready to get ready. That is yet another chronic behaviour that will prevent you from taking your first steps in a new direction. This behaviour typically occurs in people who are on the analytical side. If you keep getting more and more knowledge and you never take the action, you will get stuck. One of the reasons is that you feel like you are doing something productive, yet you are not.

Knowledge without support of execution is just wasted knowledge and will get you nowhere. I would rather have less knowledge and spend more time by trying things and experimenting than hoarding knowledge and taking action next to never.

Getting overwhelmed is the last thing on my list. It can be connected with previous two behaviours. See, if you believe that you need a massive amount of knowledge before you can start, you will easily become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information you can get. To be effective in this age of information is to be relatively quick to judge what you need to know to start and implement right away and what you can figure out along the way.

But information is not the only thing that can keep us stuck in the feelings of overwhelm. It is about the way you think about tasks, about the mindset. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of things you need to do, by the bureaucracy, by the information about a subject that is involved. For that you need to simplify it. More in the next paragraph.

That was the end of part one. To be update about part two or any other exciting updates, sign up below.