Forming new habits is something a lot of people dread doing. It's too hard. It takes too long. On and on, excuse after excuse.
The first thing to understand is what you're really trying to do is build a behavior, not achieve a goal, says behavior science expert James Clear. "Most people get wrapped up in a goal. I want to lose 20 [pounds] in the next four months, for example," he says. "But the goal is actually irrelevant if you don't adopt the behavior."
Clear shares some tips on forming better habits faster:
1. Start with a habit that's so easy you can't say no.
A habit that's easy? No such thing! To the contrary, one of Clear's readers at JamesClear.com wanted to lose weight so he started going to the gym. The twist? Each time he went, he'd only work out for five minutes.
"He did this for four to six weeks," Clear explains. "Then eventually, he's like, 'I'm coming here all the time, I kind of want to start staying longer.'"
2. Create an environment that supports the new habit.
"When you look at people who have good habits, often they have an environment that promotes those habits," Clear says. "People who struggle to build good habits have an environment that makes it difficult to build those habits. It pulls them away from what they're trying to do."
It's not all about discipline and willpower. It's also about your environment.
3. Have a plan in case you fail.
No one's perfect but if you make a mistake, you need to have a plan to get yourself back on track. Don't succumb to one lousy defeat.
"If you look at top performers in every industry -- high-performing entrepreneurs or successful CEOs -- they all make mistakes," Clear says. "But they all find a way to get back on track quickly."
Photo from Flickr (Morgan)