I exercise a few times a week.
Spend less than I earn
And I work from home without ending up on the couch all day.
But for months I’d been trying to add yoga and creative writing to my routine, and it just wasn’t happening.
I’d have a good run then put it off, forget, or find something “more important” to do.
Days would go by, so I’d start it up again then, sure enough, let it slide.
I was getting more and more annoyed that I wasn’t doing the things I really wanted to do.
I’d think, I’m not lazy, but for some reason I wasn’t able to make those things a habit.
Any of This Sound Familiar?
It’s true – I’m not lazy, and neither are you.
Before we go further, let’s make sure two other things are true:
1. This thing you’re trying to do is something you’re really interested in. (For example, taking Cranky Aunt Edna to the mall is nice, but I can see why you might have some resistance.)
2. You have everything you need to do this thing. (You have a yoga mat and DVD, for example.)
Okay, those things are true. Good.
Here’s the core problem: this thing you’re trying to do is random. Doing something only when you feel like it isn’t the way to make it a habit. Whim is basically the opposite of discipline, so what do you do?
You Commit to Doing the Thing Every Day.
Yep, every single day.
Experts say it takes 66 days of continuous practice to cement a habit.
That’s slightly more than two months of daily effort, and though that might sound like a lot, I’m here to tell you it’s not. You get into a rhythm pretty quickly, and it totally works.
I tried this experiment, and both yoga and creative writing are now as habitual as brushing my teeth. Here’s how you can do it, too:
- Pick one thing you know would make you happier, healthier, or more productive.
- Get a calendar and hang it where you’ll see it every day. (Mine’s on the fridge.)
- Get a marker in a bright color. (Red Sharpie!)
- Commit to doing your thing every day for the next 66 days. No excuses.
- Start doing it. Today. (Baby steps help. In the beginning I committed to just 15 minutes each of yoga and writing, because I knew I could do anything for 15 minutes.)
- After you do it, make a big X on today’s date. Do a happy dance in your honor.
- Tomorrow, same drill. Do the thing, then mark a big X.
There will be days where it’s late, you’re tired, and you still haven’t done your thing.
YOU HAVE TO DO IT ANYWAY. (I was channeling your mom just then.)
But Every Day Doesn’t Have to Be Brilliant.
Half-ass your thing – it’s okay, no one’s looking. I’ve had days where the yoga poses were wobbly and the writing was crap, but still, I got that big X on the calendar. I earned it, and you will too.
Here’s the good part. Pretty soon you’ll have an unbroken string of X’s reminding you of your awesomeness. A visual representation of your commitment.
And here’s the best part: daily practice of anything means progress. It didn’t take long before I noticed I was stronger and more limber, and the writing was filling page after page. Yay!
After 66 days a few things will have happened:
- You’ll have a new habit. It’ll be part of your daily routine, and you won’t even think about straying.
- You’ll be better at whatever it is you’re doing.
- You’ll be proud of your discipline and accomplishment.
Win, win, win. Quit beating yourself up for just talking about it, and make it happen.
What would you like to make a daily habit? Let us know in the comments!
(And hit the share button if you found something useful!)
|Written on 10/13/2012 by Deonne Kahler. Deonne Kahler writes at Life on the High Wire. Drop off your email to get access to the free live training event, “Game Changer: Add Spice & Satisfaction to Your Life in 10 Minutes a Day.” Deonne is also mom to Sam the Wonder Pup and is obsessed with road tripping, national parks, and quirk.|