The habits that we maintain are the one that develop our identity. Do your habits help you be productive or procrastinate? Make you stronger or weaker? Distract you? We know certain habits will make us feel better for the long term such as moving more, drinking water, eating some veggies, and so forth.
But why don’t they ever stick? Why do you keep reverting back to your old habits?
Habits are simple, but not easy. However, there are 5 common mistakes that people make that result in habits not sticking for good. Understanding what these are can help you the next time you attempt to change a habit.
Here are common mistakes that people make when trying to create a new habit.
- Starting too big.
You want to start working out 5 days per week, meal prep all your meals, have no sweets or alcohol, and will stretch everyday before bed. Sounds great right? Well not so fast. Even though these may be great habits to have, does not mean you should implement them all at once. Actually, the smaller you start the better.
Start with eating an extra serving of vegetables per day or going to the gym 2x this week.
Won’t this take forever to change all the habits I want? No necessarily. Once you start making strides there will be a snowball effect to other habits related to the new one you just created. I always tell people, whatever habit you want to start, cut it in half.
- Don’t change your environment.
You don’t have to move or quit your job, but take the time to set yourself up for success by planning out the best environment for success.
For example, you want to go to bed earlier, but find yourself staying up too late with the TV on. THen take the TV out of the bedroom.
You want to eat more vegetables. Then buy vegetables you enjoy.
You want to start exercising. Then purchase a gym membership that is convenient.
Do you see where I am going here? Your behaviors are a byproduct of the environment they are in.
- Lack of strategy.
Just because you have a habit to be, does not automatically make it happen. It is okay to have a goal or end point in mind, but the process is just as important as the result. New lifestyle habits require the creation of new routines or rituals to make them happen. You want to drink more water, but how are you going to go about doing that? Do you have a water bottle? Do you have access to water at work? How much more water do you want to drink?
Develop a clear plan.
- Lack of patients.
Creating a new habit takes time. Not that 21-day bull crap you hear. Yes the more you do a habit the easier it gets, but just because you did something for 21 days does not imprint it forever in your habits.
You have to remember that the negative habit you are trying to replace with a positive one, has probably been there for years!
New habits take time. As Jame Clear, author of Atomic Habits, says “1% better everyday”
- Not having clear expectations
Most of the time we create habits because we are told they are good for us. But we have no idea what that looks like for us. You say you want to be healthy. Well what does that even mean? More importantly what does that look like for you!
It is important to have a clear visual and understanding of what habit you want to develop and what that entails. You are more likely to stick to a new habit if you know what exactly you want, when you want them, and how you are going to go about it.
If you don’t like that habits you currently have then you need to create new habits. In order to be successful at implementing the new ones you have to have a full understanding of what you want, how you go about it, when it will happen, where it will take place, and know that it takes time.
These mistakes listed above are not a magic pill and will not guarantee the creation of a new habit. But if you have a desire to change then understanding these common mistakes can help with the process.