Last year I decided to begin exercising. Not for a few months or a couple years, but for the rest of my life. I made a resolution to do some form of physical or mental exercise for 15 minutes a day every day. 15 minutes may sound meager, but by making a small habit change, I could later on extend my time without too much difficulty. I managed to keep my commitment to bike, run, meditate, or do yoga every day.
I had some slips when I missed a few days while moving apartments and traveling, but this small habit change got me to start running, and I eventually ran my first half marathon (: So, it worked out well.
If you’re setting some New Year’s resolutions, here are some tips on forming your new habits:
Make it quantifiable
You must be able to measure your goal so it can serve as an indication that you are on the right track. Either you did it or you didn’t, there should be no ambiguity. Setting a number to your goal is the easiest way to prevent this ambiguity. My metric was 15 minutes. Either I spent those 15 minutes on myself or I didn’t. So figure out: How long? How many pages? How many phone calls? What time? Put a number on it so when you are done, you can tick it off.
Keep a log
‘Ticking it off’ is an important step in habit forming because it helps motivate you and, like I mentioned before, it shows your progress. Jerry Seinfeld has a productivity secret: Don’t Break the Chain. This is a great tool that I use to help me on working on my goals. Upon completing your task, tick it off your log to track your progress.
When you fail…Start over
Don’t be hard on yourself if/when you fail, simply start over. Last year I did some traveling, which threw my routine out of whack. I ended up missing some days of exercise. I could have beat myself up over this, but that would have been counter-productive. If you go back to your old habits, simply start over.
Do what works for you
Don’t set yourself up for failure by doing something you hate. Forming new habits can be difficult, so there’s no need to make it even more challenging. You know yourself best, so choose a task that is somewhat enjoyable. Personally, I love stationary bikes. It’s hands-free, I can listen to music, and I can enjoy the scenery while I pedal away. So, if you want to succeed in your new habits, make sure to do what works for you.
Good luck! (: