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13 Things to Avoid When Changing Habits : zen habits

https://zenhabits.net/13-things-to-avoid-when-changing-habits/

zenhabits.net

13 Things to Avoid When Changing Habits : zen habits
"Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time." - Mark Twain I've learned a lot about changing habits in the last 2 1/2 years, from quitting smoking to taking up running and GTD and vegetarianism and waking early and all that.

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“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” 

Aristotle

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“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

Jim Ryun

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Taking On Two Or More Habits At Once

Taking On Two Or More Habits At Once

No matter how much enthusiasm we have for the goals, taking on even just two habits at once is setting ourselves up for failure, because greatly increases the difficulty of sticking to it.

Pick only one habit to change and devote all of your energy to that, and once it’s on autopilot, move on to the next one.

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Not Committing a Plan To Paper

Just telling ourselves that we’re going to change isn’t enough. You have to write down your goal and stick to it.

Write a start and an end date (30 days is a good time frame). Write down exactly what you’re going to do, how you’re going to be accountable, your rewards and the obstacles and triggers. 

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Being Half-Committed

We often half-commit to change for a while, relapse, feel guilty about it and then start all over again. That often happens when we are not fully committed.

To commit fully, tell everyone about it and put reminders you're doing it everywhere.

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Not Having Support

There will be times when you falter, and for those moments it’s ideal to have multiple supporters. Best yet, join a support group of people doing the same thing.

Make the commitment to your support group, and promise and ask for their help when you hit rough spots. Put this in your written plan.

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Not Thinking Through Your Motivation

Not Thinking Through Your Motivation

Before you start your habit change, think through your motivations. Why are you doing this? What will keep you going when you forget your reasons?

Public commitment is a big motivator, but you should have internal ones too. Write these down in your plan.

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Not Realizing The Obstacles

Not being cognizant of the obstacles makes you more likely to relapse and give up when you hit them. But having a plan to deal with the obstacles when the urges hit make you less likely to relapse.

Research and think it through to anticipate your obstacles. Then make a plan for what you’ll do when you face the obstacles.

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7. Not Logging Your Progress

The benefits of keeping a log are:
  1. It reminds you to be consistent.
  2. It keeps you aware of what you’re doing.
  3. It motivates you, as you want to write good things in it.
  4. It helps keep you accountable before the people you’ve made a commitment to.

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Having no Accountability

It’s not enough to make a big announcement and not follow through.

Regardless if you fail or succeed, it’s important to have a system that keeps you accountable and helps you reporting your progress.

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Not Knowing Your Triggers

Not Knowing Your Triggers

When you try to break a habit, you have to know all of your triggers and then create a positive habit to replace the negative habit for each of the triggers.

Put your triggers in your written plan, and be very consistent with them — when the triggers happen, do the habit immediately, every single time. The less consistent you are with your triggers, the weaker the habit will be.

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Not Doing Your Reading

Read as much as possible about every habit change, before and during. This way you can find out strategies for success, potential obstacles, good tools that will help you to be successful. 

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Changing focus too soon

We often refocus to other things a few weeks after starting a habit change. But the habit probably isn’t firmly ingrained by then, so you waste the time spent trying to form the new habit. 

Stick to the habit for at least 30 days, and be as consistent as possible.

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Not Being Consistent

If you attach a habit to a trigger, you have to do the habit every single time, immediately following the trigger. Being intermittent will not lead you to a habit.

Try not to miss a single time if possible, because the more times you miss the more you’re tempted to ignore the trigger again.

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Quitting After Failure

If you fail a few times, don’t give up.

Just figure out why it happened, and plan to beat that obstacle next time. Then be as consistent as possible from then on out, until the habit is ingrained.

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attributed to Aristotle
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

attributed to Aristotle

Confucius

Confucius

“Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.”

How to Develop Habits

  • Focus on just one habit, for 30 days.
  • Put it on paper, together with your motivations, obstacles, and strategies for overcoming them.
  • Commit fully, preferably in a public way.
  • Track your progress.
  • Remain publicly accountable — report on your progress each day.
  • Have support for when you falter.
  • Reward small wins.
  • If you fail, figure out what went wrong, plan for it, and try again.

7 more ideas

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Tackle One Behavior At a Time

You can’t fully focus on any behavior if you try to establish several at once. 

Doing so risks overloading your willpower and your habits may end up competing for priority.

“Stack” Your Habits

The best way to turn a behavior into a habit is to use a trigger to remind yourself to do it. Your trigger needs to be something you always do anyway. Anything you already do without thinking works.

As you build new habits, you create new triggers for yourself and stack a new habit onto it. Each existing habit acts as a trigger to remind you to complete the next one until it becomes natural to do both together.