Day 11 – Starting Well Challenge: How to Build Consistent Habits

Consistent

(Click here to download Day 11 Worksheets)

Today we talk about how to make it as easy as possible to keep your new habits.

First, a recap of our previous days:

We’ve categorized our big long list of goals and objectives into battle lines. We were honest about where we currently stood in relation to where we want to be in those battle lines (battle lines = the roles, contexts, and areas in our lives worth fighting for).

We then funneled that list of goals into our top (no more than) four. And in our previous installment, we selected habits, practices, and steps to drive us to achieving those goals.

We also discussed the importance of saying ‘No’ to things that do not help make that future happen.

Today, we give ourselves the best chance to be consistent with our new habits.

We’ve done good work so far and sometimes just putting pen to paper will help us more than we know.

Yet in order to make greater strides, we must be consistent with the little steps.

Four Keys to Consistency

I believe there are four key components to being consistent with the habits, practices, and steps that will support your goals and objectives:

  1. Putting Your Habits in Your Calendar: In our previous exercise, I suggested you go ahead and put your habit on the calendar. Noting in your calendar that you will run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00am for 30 minutes is much more powerful than just saying to yourself that you’ll jog three times this week.
  2. Using Anchors or Triggers: B.J. Fogg, a Standford professor and behavioral change expert, encourages people to use a current habit to anchor or trigger a new habit. For instance, if you want to pray more, you might amend the habit of praying to something like this: “After I turn on the coffee maker in the morning, I’ll pray for 5 minutes.” Pick something you do every day, and anchor your new habit to that thing.
  3. Preparing Your Environment: Have the ‘tools of your habit’ ready ahead of time. If you decided to go to the gym as soon as you get home from work, then have your gym clothes laid out right next to where you take off your work clothes (taking off your work clothes, by the way, could be a trigger).
  4. Having a Compelling “Why”: The first three are mechanical. You schedule, you note triggers, you make sure the right equipment is exactly where it needs to be. This final item is motivational. If you do not have a compelling “Why” behind the goal and the habit, then, over time, it’ll be more and more difficult to be consistent with your habit.

Today’s action steps might take a little time, but in the long run, they’ll save you time. Here they are:

  • Put your habits in your calendar for the upcoming week: Do this weekly and don’t trust a recurring alert on your smartphone’s calendar app.
  • Decide on a trigger: What are some things you do everyday already? Can you put one of your habits right after that trigger? Most habits are conducive to this, some might not be.
  • Prepare: What items do you need to do your habit? Dumbbells right outside the garage door for simple weight training? A basket in the kitchen for all electronics so your family can focus on each other? Your journal and pen at your breakfast chair every night, ready to go in the morning?
  • Commit to Your “Why”: Hopefully, as we’ve gone through this process, the “Why” for your goals have been swimming around in your head. Write it (or them) down if you haven’t.

(Click here for Day 11 Worksheet)

Preview of Day 12: In our next installment of the Starting Well Challenge, we’ll talk about accountability and relationships – how you can bolster your habit through the people you’re close to.

Don’t forget to click a social media button below and share this post if it’s helpful to you. Also, you can find links to each day’s post and worksheets along with other helpful resources here: 2014 Starting Well Resource Page.

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