Changing our habits can be difficult. Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s book, Psycho-Cybernetics, instigated the idea that habits are formed in 21 days. But life is unpredictable, and when things come up that knock us off or routine, it can be hard to get back on track. If you find yourself trying to start our restart his habits, here are a few tips to help you get going and keep it up when things are difficult.
When you’re regularly late to your 9 a.m. yoga class, take a look at what you’re doing before you leave the house to determine what’s eating away at your time. You might need to pack your gym bag before going to bed or have the kids get their lunches ready the night before. Anticipate distractions that have impeded success in the past so you can make plans to avoid them in the future.
Take It Slow
Developing a new habit takes effort as well as time. If you try to make a change that is to drastic, the chances are you’ll end up frustrated and burned out, which makes quitting very tempting. If you want to develop better eating habits but spending time in the kitchen isn’t your thing, plunging into a gourmet cookbook might be a little overwhelming. Instead of setting yourself up to fail, make a simpler change like choosing healthier options at restaurants our picking one or two simple recipes to try out.
Pick The Right Habit
Being clear about what you want to achieve injustices your chances for success. If you want to be less tired, make a habit of getting to sleep earlier in lieu of drinking energy-boosting beverages. If you want to lose weight, work on eating more fruits and vegetables rather than only doing aerobics. If you want to start exercising more, set aside 30 minutes three times a week, instead of hitting the gym for two hours on your first day.
Since habits form by repeating actions, it’s important not to deviate from your routine. If you’re going to start using vitamins, be sure to take them at the same time every day. If you take them in the morning but tomorrow you’ll be on the go, take a packet with you so you won’t have to skip a day.
Allow For Setbacks
Things will come up that will interrupt your normal schedule. When you do miss a step in your routine, don’t throw in the towel. Look at what factors contributed to the lapse and avoid them if you can in the future. Otherwise know that temporary setbacks area normal, remind yourself of the number of times you’ve succeeded, and start again tomorrow.
Keep at It!
Once you have the right habit in mind and you’ve done your best to remove barriers to your success, the most important thing is to repeat the action for three to four weeks or until the behavior becomes second nature.