How many times have you started a new year and told yourself you were going to achieve a goal you have been thinking about for a long time, only to find yourself feeling like you have made little progress by this point in the year?
I bet it has happened to you quite a few times. It has happened to all of us. Most times we feel like the reason we have not achieved what we set out to achieve is due to a lack of self-discipline. We find ourselves saying “I need to become a more disciplined person.”
I used to feel the same way, until I read Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit. What it made me realize is that no matter how much I want to become a more discipled person, focusing on being more disciplined is the wrong thing to focus on.
You see, discipline is a result not an action. We cannot just have more discipline. In fact our self-discipline, or willpower, is limited and therefor it can run out easily.
Rather than focusing on creating more discipline we need to focus on creating different habits.
I once heard someone say that “our beliefs create our thoughts, our thoughts create our actions, and our actions create our results.” If you want to have more success and more self-discipline (results) we need to create habits that support them (actions).
3 Ways to Make New Habit Stick
- Make the habit easy to complete. If your goal is to get in better shape, and your new habit is to go for a run every morning, try to make going for that run as easy as possible. The night before you should set out your running shoes, and running clothes, right next to your bed so you see them first thing in the morning and can put them on to go for your run.
- Get excited about the result of the habit. In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg teaches that when we anticipate the “reward” of an action we begin to crave it more, and therefor make the habit easier to complete. If your habit is running, try focusing on the good feelings you have after a run. Craving these feelings will make you run on days where you don’t feel like doing it.
- Have an accountability partner. This is one of the best ways to make a habit stick. It is why so many people have workout partners. No matter what habit you are trying to create, and accountability partner can help you so that you don’t give in during moments of weakness.
Creating a habit can be hard. The common belief used to be that it only took 21 days to create a new habit. However, new studies are showing that it is actually closer to 66 days.
That may seem like a long time, but if you can stick with it for 66 days your new habit will become pretty permanent. If you follow the 3 tips above it can help you to reach the 66 day mark.
Creating new habits is essential to your success. If you want to achieve something, anything, you need to have habits that support that goal.
Stop relying on self-discipline, and create habits that achieve the type of results most people believe only more self-discipline will lead to.