Does it ever happen to you that one habit sticks like glue as soon as you start it, but the other escapes years of starting again and again, whether you lure it with good or threaten it with bad? Have you figured out the difference between them? Is one habit kind of nice and energizing all the time even after years of doing it and the other seems like a tedious obligation already after a few times? I will propose some potential explanations and a few steps to make the habits yours and to help them stick.
Let’s start with Why. Simon Sinek always says to start with Why. In current case we’re not going to plan a business, this Why is instead turned towards why do you want this habit to stick? Is that Why clear enough for you? Do you want to read 30 minutes every day because all the gurus say they read every day and you need to have a habit of reading, you know, to be like them. Or maybe you want to read, because you want to be a writer one day and this helps you to feel the style of different authors to finally understand your own style. These two are quite different goals, aren’t they? The first is actually rather vague and I can imagine why it does not support building the habit.
So it would be best to be more specific and make it clear what is it that you actually want to achieve with more reading. And, in addition, be positive in your wording as our brain does not really make a difference between yes and no. So if you word the goal “I don’t want to feel stupid in front of people”, then brain hears the word “stupid” and well, that’s where your focus goes. (Try not to think about a red balloon when you are told not to think about the red balloon. Get my point?) Clear and positive wording will not only motivate you to build the habit, but also to specify, for example, what kind of books you will read and what else you need for the habit to stick.
Next step is to figure out how You will do it. The guru is not living your life. He may say that reading 30min at 5am in the morning is the way to go, but it might not be your way. And if you force it, you will not succeed. Make it yours. I will propose three easy steps following which will help you make the habit yours and get you on the way:
- Give the habit a test-drive. Meaning that you know why you want this and how it can help you, but by a test-drive you can make sure this is exactly the habit that will help you achieve it and a habit you actually like doing without any strings attached at that point in time. Sometimes we have this illusion in our heads that something would be nice. You know, how sometimes people buy fancy bike clothes and a bike before they even get on the bike to then find out that they absolutely don’t like it as much? So be sure you know what you are getting yourself into.
- Does your environment support you in building your habit? Environment being made of physical space, necessary equipment and surrounding people. If you know why you want it and, after testing, are sure this is it, then building a motivating environment will get you nicely on the way. Rearrange the space, get the right equipment and talk to the people surrounding you about what support you need from them.
- Do you have the necessary skills? Reading seems like a skill we all got from childhood, but even that can be enhanced. Even if you are quite a fast reader already. Jim Kwik certainly is a super teacher, so I do urge you to consider his training. I have been through it and reading is much more pleasurable and productive after that, not to mention even quicker. I am not being paid for this advertising, I just suggest what has proven useful for me. So, think through how you can boost your skills and knowledge to support your motivation to stick with the habit. Often the habits don’t stick if we don’t really have the skills, for example you would love to cook proper dinner every night, but you actually lack cooking skills and so you hate it.
So, to get a good habit to stick, first make sure why you want it and if that is exactly what you want, and then organize your environment and your skills to support and motivate yourself.