16 ideas that will change how you set up habits

Some ideas keep coming up again as I work with people trying to set up sustainable habits.
Here are the most useful ones.
  1. Strict habits are a crutch to help us to do things we want to do. They are a means to an end. "Getting in the habit" of something means doing it without thinking, without resistance and with as much flexibility as our circumstances require.
  1. We plan to stick to our habits but then life gets in the way. Instead of being flexible and adapting, we tend to blame ourselves for not sticking to what we decided.
  1. Not every day is going to be the same. Some days you may sleep better and have more energy, other days you may have something on your mind. If you try to apply the same rigid rules to every day regardless of circumstances you're just going to accumulate frustration.
  1. Don't rely on streaks too much when building habits. Streaks get easily broken by unexpected circumstances and if your habit relies exclusively on them you'll lose momentum.
  1. When you set a reminder to do a particular habit, you often don't take into account what you'll be doing at that time and how hard it will be to stop. This comes up often for people trying to set up a morning routine, who set their alarm clock to 6am and ignore the fact that they often scroll Reddit until 3am.
  1. If you want to build a habit, you actually need to prioritize it. This means acknowledging ahead of time what you're going to be giving up on. Waking up early means going to sleep early, which means no late night gaming, which means facing the ridicule of your gaming buddies when you turn in for the night.
  1. Perfectionism kills habits faster than lack of discipline. If you're trying to do it "right or not at all", you'll likely end up with the latter.
  1. Be ready to fail when setting up a new habit. Fail to start, then fail to do it consistently, then fail to do it well. By the time you get to this point, your habit will have formed.
  1. Win through a series of adjustments. When you're trying to implement a new habit, make a concrete plan, commit to it, and then allow yourself to fail. The next day, adjust the plan, commit again, and allow yourself to fail again. Rinse and repeat until you find a plan that works.
  1. Conditional habits are the best way to balance consistency with flexibility. For example, if you your puppy or kid didn't wake you up screaming in the middle of the night, you go for an early morning run; if he did, you go for a late morning walk.
  1. The path to building a consistent habit involves moving from a rigid schedule you can't stick to, to a conditional habit that works better, to a fully flexible habit that becomes part of your life.
  1. The best way to make your habit more sustainable is to aim a lot lower. Focus on consistency, then on quality, then on intensity.
  1. Your health issues aren't "holding you back". They are just part of the reality you need to work with. Which means your expectations need to match what your body can do. If you don't treat it with kindness and compassion, it won't deliver.
  1. If you find yourself pushing to do more, see if you can find a way to do more without pushing. Pushing is not the point - doing is.
  1. Sometimes we procrastinate on committing to doing something because we're worried that we'll procrastinate on actually doing it. Your fear of future procrastination is causing your current procrastination. Tackle life one procrastination at a time.
  1. The guilt about procrastinating *until now* is the reason you're procrastinating *right now*.

Originally posted on reddit.com/r/getdisciplined.
Eli Finer

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Eli Finer