How to Make Habits Stick

August 24, 2018
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forming new habits

Here’s a thought: Make it easier to be productive than to procrastinate. You might have seen happiness researcher Shawn Achor on TEDTalks. He’s engaging, funny, and an expert in how to form better habits. He advocates simplicity with his “20-second rule.” It’s about limiting the complications on the road to new and better habits. Want to learn to play a new instrument? Keep it within easy reach, not under a pile of junk or in the back of a closet. Need to get into a daily exercise routine? Sleep in a fresh pair of gym clothes and wake up ready to work out. You’ve eliminated the tiring, uninspiring search for your tools, resisted the chances of too many choices (should I sleep in, eat donuts, check my E-mail, watch TV, etc.) and launched into the habit you need to pursue. Not so long ago, the phrase “Quick and dirty” meant the same thing: simplify the task to get it done. That’s how to make habits stick.

Okay, you’ve read the overview. What’s next? Assess your priorities. You know that the world will continue to spin on its axis if you don’t check social media messages or respond to your cellphone every time someone calls. Set aside specific times that you will not do those things. Use a timer if necessary.

Clear the clutter from your life. Toss junk mail into the trash. Fill the week by collecting and donating clothes and shoes that you don’t wear. Get rid of hobby supplies that you haven’t used in years. Remove useless icons from your various screens. You’ll be left with useful mail, essential clothes, helpful gear and more time to benefit you. You’ve lost time-consuming distractions. Your head is clear, not cluttered. Now your schedule and focus are free to be productive.

Write a short, concise statement of your goal(s). There are scientific proofs of why that works. Let’s not be distracted by pondering them. Pursue the goal.

Get into the routine of that new habit.

Reward yourself for following a new path: Bask in the sense of accomplishment. Confide it to friends, write yourself a note, and spend time feeling the joy you’ve created for yourself.

Use uptalk. Speak to yourself and to other people of your progress and pride in pursuing new habits and how they benefit you. Your brain will get the message and amplify it into a productive way of thinking.

Need some motivational quotes to keep your progress going? You might find these worth considering:

“If you try and lose then it isn’t your fault. But if you don’t try and we lose, then it’s all your fault.” ― Orson Scott Card

Remember: The easier it is to kick-start a healthy habit, the more likely it is to get established. ~ Shawn Achor

Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts a healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.