7 Steps to Build a Habit

Do you have a hard time making a new habit? I know I do. It’s easy to get off track or sidetracked or unmotivated.

So how do people create good habits? And more importantly, stick to them?

The answer is a system. A series of simple steps.

I’m in the process of creating a habit of writing everyday. Something I have wanted to do for years and have struggled to make into a true habit. So after doing some research online and reading a few books, here are the 7 steps I plan on following to build my new habit of writing everyday:

1. Choose One Habit

Many of us have several habits we’d like to develop, but building more than one at a time is extremely difficult. Not only will difficult habits drop out of favor for easier habits, the time it takes to actually build the habit is increased due to lack of focus.

2. Make it Simple

The more difficult the habit is to complete each day, the less likely you will be to complete that activity on a daily basis. Our motivation and energy wax and wane each and every day so it’s more difficult to complete a complex task day in and day out.

Make your habit simple. For example, which is easier to accomplish daily: writing 2000 words or 100 words?

3. Program Your Habit

Writing down when and how you will build your new habit can make it 3 times as likely you will complete the habit each day. Schedule the new habit immediately after one you already have so it becomes automatic.

Here’s what mine says: “After getting dressed each morning, write down 100 words.”

4. Don’t Miss 2 Days in a Row

Research has shown that missing a habit for 1 day reduces the chance of sticking to that habit by 5%, which is not much, but missing 2 days reduces the chance by 55%! Don’t beat yourself up for missing a day here and there. It’s not a big deal, but track your habit building to ensure you don’t miss 2 days in a row.

5. Make Yourself Accountable

Putting yourself on the line, either financially or by telling someone else about your new habit, can drastically increase the chance of making your new task a habit.

6. Stay the Course

According to The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, it takes 66 days to build a new habit. Track your new habit over the course of 66 days until it becomes automatic (this also helps with Step 4).

7. Increase Your Habit

Once your habit has become automatic, increase the complexity. For me it will be writing 500 words each day instead of 100, then once that has become automatic, 1000, then 2000…

So there you have it. Seven steps to building a new habit. What habit are you planning on working on?

Until next time…

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