Thursday, April 07, 2016

How to build good habits after you fail

I started this year with many good resolutions. Wake up early. Pray. Exercise. Read the Bible. Write a blog. Organize. Write a journal. Keep track of time. Sleep by midnight. Over the next few months, I failed to do many of the habits that I resolved to do daily. I overslept. I skipped writing a blog post or a journal entry. I did not organize. I forgot to log my time. I slept after midnight.

How do we build good habits after we fail many times?

1. Understand why you fail to do your resolutions. I always write "wake up early" and "sleep before midnight" as my resolutions, but I seldom do them. Upon reflection, I just write them down because everyone has to wake up early because of the heavy traffic in Metro Manila. Because I live near the office, I don't have to wake up early everyday, unless I have a hearing. I can just focus on getting enough sleep. So I will remove those two resolutions from my list.

2. Remind yourself of your habits. If you forget to do your resolutions, make a reminder that you can easily see or hear. For example, if you want to exercise in the morning, put the weights or running shoes near your bed. Make an alarm that will ring at the time that you want to do your habit. That's what I used to do, and it worked for me.

3. Do the important resolutions first. In the morning, I exercise first before I do the other resolutions. Why? Because I can read or write at other times, but exercising when I'm tired or full is hard. So the best time to exercise is after I wake up, when I'm well rested and neither tired nor full. In the evening, the most important thing is to publish a blog post because I want to build discipline and write daily. After I eat dinner and read on the internet, I write a blog post. I try to blog everyday. Kindly let me know what you need or want to read, so I can write blog posts that can help you.

4. Make your habits easy to do. According to Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, we should make our habits very simple and easy to do, something like 30 seconds or less. I did 3 Tiny Habits for a few weeks, and it is really easy to do. After you make a habit that you always do, try doing a small part of the habit that you wish to develop. For example, after you brush your teeth, you just floss one tooth. Maybe after you wake up, you take a sip of water.

I also simplified my existing habits. For example, I shortened my exercise routine from two sets with twelve to ten repetitions each to just one set of twelve repetitions each. On my blog, I am happy when I can write coherently and simply. For my journal, I write using verbs and bullets. When my habits become automatic, I can later increase their difficulty and complexity.

5. Monitor your habits. After reading Better than Before and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam, I resolved to keep a resolution chart and a time log this month to help me keep track of my habits. I remembered to chart and log over the weekend, but I did not do them during the weekdays. So I will do the chart and log tonight before I sleep. Over time, our habits become automatic when we do them everyday.

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