Consistency is the name of the game in making and keeping good habits. Without consistency, it is not a habit.
Dr. Sean Young, a psychologist and author of Sticking With it – a Scientifically Proven Process for Changing Your Life – For Good, shares his process of making and keeping habits that enhance work and personal lives. Here is his process in a nutshell.
- Young believes that taking small steps beats big dreams. Young looks to dieters who want to lose weight. The dieters, according to Weight Watchers, whose goal is to lose one pound a week stick with their goal. On the other hand, 40% of dieters whose goal is to “have a great body” quit their diets within one week and 50% of them weigh more than before they started their diets in less than three months. BJ Fogg, head of Stanford’s Persuasive Tech Lab, agrees, “Go with baby steps for the win…very gradually, make tiny steps, not bigger steps.”
- Call for a back-up. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” Alcoholic Anonymous.
- Ask yourself why you think this specific habit is important. Will this habit make you healthier, wealthier, more connected, more expert? What is the reward? And then tell your buddy what the reward is and how you think this specific habit will help you achieve that reward. Then, tell your buddy you’d like his/her help, set up a time with your buddy to help you get started with the new habit you want to develop and check in with your buddy consistently to report how you’re doing with your new habit.
- Make the process easy. Try following author of The Happiness Advantage Shawn Archer’s “20 Second Rule.” “If you can make the positive habit 3 – 20 seconds long, it’s easier to start practicing your habit. And the likelihood of your doing the habit rises dramatically.”
- Act before you think. Change you behavior and your mind will follow. Action will reinforce you new habit, thinking about it won’t.
- Reward yourself. Try what Katherine Milkman, Wharton psychology professor, calls “temptation bundling. If you want a piece of chocolate, go to the gym first. Then reward yourself with the chocolate.
- Build a routine. Repetition rewires your brain. According to neuroscientist Alex Korb, part of you brain wants to do what you’ve done in the past so build a routine by repeating what you’ve done.
Dr. Young believes that “…you can do anything once you decide to do one thing.”