Habits take time. I know this, yet I am constantly trying out new habits, the majority of which fail to stick. Why? For me, there are lots of reasons but here are some of the things holding me back and what I am doing about them to ensure the habit will stick.
–Most important for me and I think for you—I will not give up. If I fall off the wagon, if the habit didn’t stick, if I need more time—I will commit to keep trying. As you may know, changing my diet habit is a habit I keep failing at but refuse to give up. I will get there, but it is taking years.
–Sometimes I just try a habit and see if I like it. If I do and yet I am not sticking with it, then I know I have to Plan on how to implement the habit. I need to block off time in my calendar, stack it with another habit or plan it out in detail. It won’t just happen.
–Find your Why for your habit…IF it’s powerful to you, your ‘why’ will be the reason you keep starting over, keep trying, and what will ultimately allow you to win.
–Is your environment optimum for change? If not, you will likely fail. If you want to eat healthy, clean out your pantry. Take some time to think about your physical environment and the people you are hanging out with. Are they aligned to give you the best chance for success?
Great habits make your life better. They are worth all the time and commitment you are making to incorporate them into your life. There are even more tips and advice below in the article by Jason Gutierrez from The Monk Life.
Good habits take time: how to deal with failure and falling off the wagon
Do you know what the hardest part about building good habits is?
Yep, you guessed it – sticking to them long enough to ingrain them as a part of your routine.
Forming new habits isn’t easy, which is why the overwhelming majority don’t exercise and don’t meditate. Instead they smoke, procrastinate, haven’t learned a new language, or are still in debt. If good habits were easy, I probably wouldn’t be here helping you. You’d already be a master.
To make new, good habits stick, you have to stay with them even when you fall off the wagon.
And you will fall off, trust me. It’s what makes you human.
The main difference between wildly successful people and the rest of the population is what they do when shit hits the fan. Here’s what I’m talking about. I’m sure at least a few of these will resonate with you:
Variables in your daily schedule conflict what your new habit plan (maybe you’re sick, an accident happened, unexpected visitors, boss hits you with a big, new project).
You have too many other things going on (you feel overwhelmed).
You’re too tired.
You’re just not feeling it.
You convince yourself tomorrow you’ll get back on track.
You miss a day or two and decide now just isn’t the right time
What do you do when you’re supposed to go to the gym in the evening, but heavy traffic delayed your commute home an extra hour?
Are you the type of person that says “screw it, I’ll just try again tomorrow”? Or do you find a way to stick to your routine, no matter what?
The important message here is not to avoid failure all together – we all have our bad days – it’s to plan for it.
Having a few strategies to follow can mitigate missed habits and help to quickly get back on track when things go awry.
Here are my best tips for how to deal with falling off the wagon:
1. It’s incredibly important to understand why you choose a habit.
This is king above all other strategies. If you don’t agree with a new habit and you’re just doing it because so-and-so said you should, then you’re doomed to fail from the start. Period. Choose habits that are meaningful to you and are things you actually want to be doing.
Got it? Good, let’s move on.
2. Schedule your habits
It’s great that you have a newfound burning desire to exercise and lift weights. Simply saying “I want to go to the gym” doesn’t really do much for your efforts.
You need a time and place for your habits to exist.
Evaluate your current routine and find a definite timeslot to schedule your new habit. Using the gym example, let’s choose 12pm every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (my current lifting schedule). Commit to that in writing on your calendar.
Writing this down does a couple of things for you. For one, it makes the commitment real and no longer just in your head. If you’re going to skip out on your habit, you now have to make the conscious decision to cancel what you’ve already planned to do.
Secondly, it gives you a reminder to get back on track when you slip up. If life gets in the way and you miss your Monday gym session, you damn well better plan to show up on Wednesday.
Note: If your habit is something smaller like flossing your teeth, then you probably wouldn’t be scheduling that. Instead, use a current behavior like brushing your teeth as the reminder. We discussed this a previous post.
3. Stick to your schedule, even if it’s just a little bit
Most often, one slip-up in your new habit routine won’t make much of a difference. However, missing several days in a row is a big no-no. The objective of the game is to ensure you minimize the number of days you miss, ideally not missing any at all.
If you can’t make it to the gym for your full workout, then do some bodyweight work at home. Whatever you have time for. The important thing is sticking to your habit. Even though pushups at home isn’t quite the same as deadlifts at the gym, you’ve still succeeded in not missing a workout. In the grand scheme of things, you haven’t set yourself back too much, assuming it’s not a common occurrence.
This strategy does wonders for your self-confidence in that it teaches you that even when things go south, you’re still dedicated to becoming the type of person you want to be.
Note: To make things super easy for yourself, never try to miss more than one day in a row of your new habit. If you do, put yourself on an emergency status and do your absolute best to get back on track the next day.
4. Create an environment for success
Jim Rohn said it best: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
If you’re a recovering alcoholic and trying to replace your old drinking habits, then you probably shouldn’t be at the bar with your old drinking buddies. Start hanging around the people you want to emulate. Sooner or later, their good habits will start to rub off on you.
That’s the obvious one. The not-so-obvious tip is to start doing the same thing with your physical environment. An example I previously used was putting your fruits and vegetables in front of the bag of chips. Even better, get rid of the chips all together if you know you’ll be otherwise tempted to eat them.
We are much more influenced by our surroundings than we think. Make it easier on yourself and design an environment that will help you achieve your goals.
Now the important part – we all know that talk is cheap and action is power. Use the knowledge and strategies I’ve provided and get started on your journey to becoming a better you. Start by evaluating your goals, then identifying the habits you need to get there.
Remember, one thing at a time :).