Everyone has the same problem. We all know the things we should do in our lives to better ourselves or perform at higher levels, but have trouble getting started and staying disciplined to make habits that stick.
The key to implementing anything - a habit, a routine, a process, a way of thinking, etc. is to have a system that makes it easy to do and that is repeatable.
Here are 3 things you can do to make a winning habit and make it stick.
1.) Start Small
One of the mistakes people make when trying to change their habits and implement new ways of doing things is that they implement everything all once. They attempt to eat the whole elephant and quickly find themselves discouraged or give up. We see this every year in January at the gym. People decide on New Year's that they are going to get in better shape and are "going to go to the gym every day and lose 20 lbs in one month!" Of course, we all know what happens. They get a week in, miss a few days, see they aren't on pace to lose "the 20" and give up.
This way of doing things doesn't make sense. To put it in perspective, do Astronauts train really hard for a week and then are ready for space? Of course not. They train for years and years...and if they are lucky, might get a chance to go.
I know you are not training to be an astronaut (or maybe you are - awesome), but the key is to eat the elephant one bit at a time. Start small. Make a commitment to go to the gym two days a week. Once you have mastered that and made a discipline of it, then you can add another day and go to 3 days a week and so on. This works for any habit you want to build, start small, get consistent, then add to it.
Remember, people overestimate what they can accomplish in a week and underestimate what they can accomplish in a year.
People overestimate what they can accomplish in a week and underestimate what they can accomplish in a year
2.) Have a Meaningful Incentive or Anchor
In order to stick with something, it has to have meaning for you. You must have a solid "why" for doing it. Using our example of getting into a workout routine and losing weight above, just saying "I want to workout more and lose weight is not enough." There is nothing associated with it - nothing to anchor to. But, if instead, you say, "I want to workout more and lose weight so that I can run a mile with my son/daughter and be able to do more with them as they grow," it is meaningful and anchors you to a purpose - something you can come back to as to why you need to continue on and keep your commitment.
Find the meaningful incentive and anchor for your new habit and keep it forefront in your mind and in front of you as you start putting the habit into place.
3.) Commit to Daily Focus and Make Yourself Accountable
No matter what habit you institute, you will need to commit to some sort of daily action to foster the behavior and make sure you apply it. It can be taking 5 mins daily to visualize and tell yourself that you will keep the commitment or scheduling specific time for it in your calendar. One of the best ways to make sure you commit daily is to have an accountability partner. Find someone who will commit to holding you accountable and that you can rely on the keep you going. It is a lot harder to skip something or not do it when you know someone will be asking you about it and holding your feet to the fire.
Bonus! 4.) Automate
With today's technology at our fingertips, you can pretty much automate everything. For example, you can set up daily reminders in your phone to tell you to do things or ask Siri to remind you at a specific time each day. You can put things in your life to keep your habit forefront. A good example of this is a goal board or putting a message or picture of the meaningful incentive/anchor on the mirror in your bathroom to look at each morning while you brush your teeth. The point is that you can set things up so you don't have to think all the time and can have natural automated reminders to keep you going.
Lastly, nothing happens unless you act. So, get going, pick the habit you want to achieve, start small, make sure to have a meaningful incentive/anchor, commit to yourself to be accountable, and then automate and make it happen. Here's to your success!