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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Factors to consider when choosing a new habit to track:
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.
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.