We’ve just stepped into March and people’s New Year’s promises are already disintegrating left, right and center. With the arrival of Lent, many people have made more promises, some which will also be broken.
Why? Did they make them just to break them? Probably not. They just made them without really being aware of what makes new habits stick. Here are some tips on how to start a habit and stick with it.
1. The one thing that will make you do anything
There is one thing that will prevent you from sticking to any goal if you don’t use it and that’s love. If you don’t love yourself, you won’t feel deserving of things, which means you will ultimately fail at what you undertake so as to prove your own unworthiness.
Love works in mysterious ways though. Just because you don’t love your body’s aesthetics doesn’t mean you don’t love your brain. This is why you’ve scored the highest paying job in your organization, but haven’t gone to the gym in five years.
We grow up with different scars: some of us feel unworthy of relationships, others of happiness. Some feel unworthy of riches, others of friendships. And it isn’t just about unworthiness, it’s just you grew up thinking you couldn’t have or do something in one area or another.
Maybe you think it has nothing to do with love, but rather incapability. The truth is though, if you love yourself, you will stop thinking you can’t have or be something. Love is like the magical medicine that cures all ills.
So, the first promise you need to make? Love yourself. If that requires therapy, alone time soaking in the hot tub once a week, doing weeks where you have all your friends tell you they love you every day, going for massages, or simply acknowledging that you don’t know how to love yourself yet, but you will as you will sit with the feeling of not loving yourself, exploring it until it dissolves, then that’s what you have to do.
Love yourself first, everything else is second.
2. Choose to create habits you love
Some people have this idea that they are going to start a habit of walking every day. Only trouble is that they hate to walk. Soon they will be cutting corners, parking the car closer and closer to where they need to, or be too busy for that afternoon stroll as they just don’t enjoy walking.
If you don’t love it, don’t take it upon yourself. There are plenty of ways to move your body that do not include walking.
There are times when there’s an exception to this rule. If you have to lose weight quickly, whether you like it or not, a juice and smoothie fast might be your best bet. But then you have to love the end result so much that you are willing to go through hardship for it.
In general, the do-or-die mentality is great to have when you set goals, but, if you can, make promises you want to keep because they excite you; that’s better. i.e. What you have to do excites you as much as the final outcome of doing it.
Likewise, choose habits that will actually serve you. I once told someone that I wanted to have a challenge; maybe we could challenge each other in something. I was used to doing this with my best friend who would challenge me to do something that’d serve me.
He challenged me instead to practice my French more, which served none of my more immediate goals at the time. As a result, I told him I wouldn’t do it.
3. Accountability and praise
Life gets a lot easier when we have support. When it comes to goal setting and forming new habits, there are online tools like apps that send you an email a day asking if you’ve done what you promised to do.
There are also professional life coaches and such as well as friends and family. Not only can a coach, or friends, be there to tell you if you fall off the bandwagon, they are also there to praise your efforts and results. They are there to cheer you up when it feels tough.
In addition to something like a calendar where you record daily if you did what you were supposed to do or not, or a calendar where it’s marked what to do and you can cross it out once done, having a support team will make you so much more motivated to stick with your new habit.
Accomplishment feels good. Praise feels good. And, as you work through it, if there are some bits of resistance—a part of you that feels you don’t deserve to accomplish your goal—this part of you might actually disappear as the praise and acknowledgement make you love yourself.
While it’s easier to stick with a habit you truly want to acquire if you love yourself first, you might end up loving yourself more by acquiring the habit.
Love yourself first and choose to form habits you love. Sure, there’s usually resistance in the beginning with any new habit, but choose things you know will eventually make you feel really, really good.
If you have to do something for a while that you dislike, ensure that the end goal is one you truly desire. And, get the support you need: download goal setting apps, get a coach, or friends, to keep you accountable and to praise your progress.