#5: 3 Tips for Making Your Habits REALLY Stick

November 23, 2020

Kelly

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Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” And if your destiny isn’t reason enough to improve your habits, then nothing is. Today I wanted to pay tribute to some habit building I’ve learned this year that’s worked best for a busybody like me during the plight of COVID. Here are the three tips for making your habits really stick.

 

1. Focus on the current trajectory instead of the current results.

This is the first tips on making your habits stick. If you go for a 20-minute jog, you’ll still be out of shape tomorrow. Conversely, if you eat an entire family pack of Oreos, it won’t make you overweight overnight. But it’s the culmination of daily repeats that will compound into considerable results. The key to making change in you life doesn’t require major upheaval; rather, you can make tiny changes consistently to lead to big results.

2. Make it as easy as humanly possible to adopt.

Let’s be real: we spend a lot of time on behaviors that are easy. For example, the 5-second break between your current episode before it autoplays into the next episode. Isn’t it so much easier to let the autoplay take its course than standing up and turning off the program? Taking inspiration from our favorite distractors, making a habit stick also needs to be as frictionless as possible. Don’t commit to “reading more,” which is vague and lacks clarity. Aim to read 2 pages a day. Don’t say you’ll practice a new language every day, say you’ll study for 2 minutes every evening. This rule recognizes that simply breaking inertia and starting is the first and most important step toward creating a habit.

3. Fear-based motivation is a fleeting battle.

It’s true that fear of a heart attack can motivate the unhealthy eater to stick to their healthy diet, but that only works for so long. Just like dogs and teaching tricks, positive reinforcement is a more effective motivator than constant fear of the alternative. This can mean something different for everyone, but try to make the glory and benefit of self-improvement the foundation of your motivation.

I end this newsletter with some recommendations for habit-instilling books in case you want to read more about some of the fundamentals of habit building:

1. Atomic Habits by James Clear
2. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
3. Stick With It by Sean D. Young

This is article #5 of “Getting Shit Done,” the muses of Kelly’s brain, broken down to easily digestible snippets and actionable tasks. Subscribe to future mailings by clicking this link: https://buttondown.email/kellymeng

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