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New Habits – Make It Happen!

The old myth of “21 days to make a habit” never seemed to work for me - well not with any good habits.


Adam Purcell
@adspurcell
New Habits – Make It Happen!

I recently read an article that proposed it actually takes an average of 66 days to form a habit in our life. A habit being defined as a settled, or regular tendency or practice – especially one that is hard to give up.

This makes sense to me. The old myth of “21 days to make a habit” never seemed to work for me – well not with any good habits.

What is the great mystery or secret to habits? Why are we so intrigued? A quick google search brings up an endless list of articles, suggestions and guides. Exactly like this one you are reading now.

But that is exactly why I am writing on this topic. I could never find a solution that worked for me in its entirety. Rather a whole range of different ideas, learnt lessons and suggestions amalgated into a process.

4 Habit making Habits

(In my humble opinion)

1. Get some quick wins.

We’ve all had those moments of great inspiration and motivation – often as the clock ticks over into a brand new year on January 1st.

The list begins, grows longer and becomes quite fictional by the time our “100 things to change this year” spreadsheet is completed.

But it only takes a few shorts weeks for the reality of our list to suck out any potential there was to knock a few off early in the year. The weeks tick by and the list becomes increasingly daunting until it is discarded.

What we need, what I needed was a list that was achievable. Strategically created to get the ball rolling and hit some quick wins.

Very often that one thing we are trying to change with the creation of a positive habit, is like staring at a giant disassembled flat pack piece of furniture and it’s 93 page instruction booklet.

But grab a few small pieces and start chipping away and pretty soon it starts looking like the photo on the front cover.

Make your goal, your new habit achievable:

  • Don’t aim to do it every day.
  • Start with a few times per week.
  • Break the bigger goal up into smaller steps.

2. Don’t set yourself up to fail

A few years ago when I began the journey of being more serious about health and fitness, I was plagued with failure.

My Sunday night routine was to pack my gym bag and set my alarm for a 5.15am wake up. My Monday morning routine was to hit the snooze function dozens of times and then drag myself off to work.

I failed before I had even begun. Not because I didn’t drag myself out of bed, but because I set myself up with an unrealistic expectation.

Just like in the first point, when it came to exercising I found it easier and easier the more times I achieved it. The more quick wins I had the more I made it a habit and a higher priority in my life. If my current schedule requires an extremely earlier gym session (definitely not my preference) I can make it in time and sometimes with a smile.

Why? I stopped setting myself up to fail. I created realistic expectations that I could achieve. The momentum of hitting quick wins gave me the motivation to keep pushing forward. This then ultimately created habits.

Simple? Well not always. But it should be simple. A goal is really just a whole list of small achievable tasks, and so are habits.

3. Start somewhere

Here’s another mindset that I’ve had to journey through – just because I can’t do it perfectly straight away, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t start anyway.

At times I am terrible at this. I want to wait until everything is in place, organised and ready to go. Rather than just getting started and letting it all fall into place.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • I’ll wait till my job changes so I have more time.
  • When summer comes it will be warmer and I’ll start then.
  • Once this busy season is over I’ll start working on it.
  • When the kids grow up, then I’ll do that.

But what if you just did it anyway? It may not look like the end product you want, but it moves you another step closer.

4. Use an app

Why fight technology? If it does take 66 days to create a habit in your life, why not use any resource or support you can to get to that point.

I’ve used reminders and tracking apps to help me build habits for all kinds of things – health and fitness choices, daily tasks, personal development and to strengthen relationships.

My current app of choice is called Productive and it works perfectly for what I need. Set habits, frequencies and tick them off as I go.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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