How good are your personal habits these days?
Sadly, it’s not uncommon at all for many people to set great intentions for themselves and already be struggling just days later to keep their good habits going strong.
Good habits are hard enough to develop in the most ideal situation, but when you’re not entirely conscious of behaviours that may be holding you back, sticking to them over the long run can be nearly impossible.
Surprisingly, almost all of us do certain things we’re hardly even aware of that are actually keeping us from making good progress.
Take a look at the following points and think about how they might apply to your own life and your struggle to develop personal habits that actually have some staying power.
1. Your thinking is restricted by your limiting beliefs.
Limiting beliefs are rules we decided about ourselves and about life in general at a very young age when we were still trying to figure out how the world works.
They seem very real and true to us, but in reality, they’re not.
As an example, you might have a very firm belief that you have to do everything perfect the first time with no room for mistakes.
If perfectionism is a limiting belief that you have, you’re more likely to beat yourself up for messing up, or worse — consider quitting.
2. You take the “quick fix” approach by covering up or distracting yourself from your usual bad behaviours.
Some of us try to take on new good habits before we’ve even fixed the old bad ones.
If a bad habit is significant enough, replacing it with a good one might just make things more difficult.
You can’t put a bandaid on a broken arm and expect it to heal perfectly.
Limiting beliefs certainly count as bad habits you may need to take care of first.
Take a note of all the negative thoughts and behaviours you do that directly relate to the good habit you’re trying to put in place, and tackle those first.
3. You always make too big of a change to stick with good personal habits over the long run.
Committing to a new good habit is exciting, and it’s easy for a lot of us to get ahead of ourselves too quickly.
The thing is, establishing habits is a slow and steady process, often with a lot of bumps and tweaks along the way.
Nobody develops a strong habit overnight, that’s for sure.
Scaling down your good habit or finding a way to break it up and focus on mastering one small habit at a time so you can build on it is a much better strategy.
Sure, it’s painfully slow and boring, but it’s the way it works.
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4. You’re way too fixated on results.
A lot of people decide to make new habits a part of their lives because they’ve got a goal in mind.
Whether it involves getting into shape, starting a business, paying off debt or improving a relationship, people know that little habits add up over time, which will essentially get them to their goal.
But only focusing on that one big goal distracts you from the present.
People who are able to maintain their habits for years and years do it because they’ve made it a part of their identity and know the process is really more important than the result itself.
5. You haven’t made the right changes to your environment to make it work.
In the beginning phase of trying to develop a good habit, it’s easy to assume that you can stay strong enough to avoid distraction and temptation.
In reality, though, our willpower levels fluctuate up and down.
Don’t make it harder than you need to by staying in an environment that could easily throw you off when you’re running low on willpower.
Either change your environment entirely or clean it up so you can do what you need to do.
6. You don’t properly reward yourself.
The human brain is wired for being rewarded, and it can be a very motivating way to keep you going with a good habit.
Unfortunately, some people either reward themselves too much or not enough.
Eventually, their good habit falls apart.
You can’t reward yourself with a pint of ice cream every night after eating healthy food all day if you’re trying to get into shape.
But you also can’t deprive yourself for months and months on end while practically living off of kale and sunflower seeds.
You have to reward yourself in a way that makes you feel good about what you’ve already accomplished and motivates you to keep going, without compromising your progress.
7. You insist on doing everything all by yourself.
Each person is responsible for the habits they develop and maintain in their lives, but that doesn’t mean they’re alone in the game.
Getting support and accountability from friends, family members, coworkers, clubs and even strangers online can be a huge help.
Help from other people is especially powerful during those times when you’re having difficulties sticking to your good habits or when you hit a roadblock and aren’t sure what to do.
When you want to throw in the towel, look to the advice and motivational support of others who are there for you.
Make It a Habit to Work on Your Personal Habits
Developing lifelong, good personal habits is hard, and even when it gets easier, it still takes effort to keep it going.
But if you can get really honest with yourself about some of the problems that may be inhibiting your progress, you’ll definitely increase your chances of being more successful at it.
It’s probably true that I want quick results and try to change everything at once. And of course, because of this approach, nothing works. So far, my success has been in giving up added sugar. I didn’t immediately cut it out all at once and completely from everything, but I gradually reduced the amount of coffee or tea with sugar until I got used to drinking sugar-free drinks and without desserts.
The main thing is to always remember that you cannot change in one day, or even in one month, and not give up.