It can be difficult to develop and maintain good habits. This is especially true if you want to stick with these habits over a long period of time, or if they require you to do something completely foreign.
If you are like most individuals, you know all too well how challenging it is to develop and maintain good habits. Whether it’s eating healthier, carving out time to focus on your dreams, or trying to give up watching television to do something more meaningful, it can be a challenge – oftentimes one in which we give up on.
I totally get it. We all have tried to develop and maintain good habits over the course of our lives, and they work for a little bit, but once we stop intentionally focusing on them, they fall off.
But instead of allowing our weaknesses and failures to define us, why not simply try again? We all have not only the ability, but also the strength to pick ourselves back up again. Why not use it to learn from our mistakes and propel us in the right direction? In fact, picking ourselves back up and coming back to a habit might be the most powerful habit of all. Coming back, over and over again until we get it right, that’s truly how we will develop and maintain good habits. And not just habits that will last briefly, but habits that we will maintain for extended amounts of time.
Failure is something that is inevitable. No matter who you are or what you have achieved, you are going to get knocked down, make mistakes, and you are going to fail. Sometimes it takes hundreds or thousands of attempts before a good habit sticks. Failing and falling off the habit isn’t a problem. The real problems come from thinking we should never fail and from allowing ourselves to give up.
Use school as an example. Maybe you had a homework assignment due that you completely forgot about. By the time you remembered about it, it was simply too late to turn anything in. That doesn’t mean that you should just give up and never do homework again, does it? If that’s the case, I would give it about two weeks before you flunked out of school. Instead, you realized that you might have dropped the ball previously, and not only do you make sure that you don’t forget about future assignments, but you probably put in more effort to compensate for the one you completely forgot about.
You should treat habits the exact same way. Just because you fell off once doesn’t mean you should give up. It means that you should pick yourself right back up and put even more effort into that habit than you previously had to make sure that you don’t fall off again.
How to Develop and Maintain Good Habits
If you are somebody who constantly falls off or struggles to develop and maintain good habits, I want to share with you some of the things that have helped me not only develop good habits, but to maintain them as well.
1. Identify the habit you want to develop and maintain.
Most of the time when we fall back into our old ways, it’s because we are no longer conscious of our habits. We slowly start acting based on our old behaviors, and if we don’t stick with something long enough before it becomes a habit, it will never become one.
That’s why the first thing we need to do is to become aware of what habits we want to achieve. We need to make them a priority in our lives by constantly reminding ourselves of what they are.
Start by writing down some of the good habits you want to develop and maintain. As the day goes on, reflect back on the things that you wrote. The more you prioritize them, the better chance you have of them sticking.
2. Make a commitment to yourself to change.
Make a commitment to yourself that you are going to do everything in your power to change your ways. These habits are to better your life, so start taking them seriously.
We are all guilty of it, but procrastinating is just going to make it harder to change a bad habit. Not only that, but the more we procrastinate, the longer it’s going to take to replace our bad habits with good ones. Make a conscious commitment to yourself that you are going to change. Commitment is necessary because that’s what is going to help you get the wheels in motion and propel you forwards.
3. Build a routine that you can follow.
One easy way to develop and maintain good habits is to build a routine that you can follow. Create a routine to where you are doing the same thing at the same time every day. When you designate a specific time to a specific habit, it is going to be a lot easier for you to actually maintain that task.
4. Recognize what obstacles stand in your way.
There are many habits that I have given up on over the course of my life. Some of these habits I have given up on completely, and some of them I have revisited. One thing that helps prevent me from giving up on the same habit twice is to recognize what obstacles stood in my way the first time around. By knowing what struggles and obstacles I endured previously, I can come up with a plan to help prevent myself from making the same mistakes.
This is going to require some reflection, but look at what went wrong in the past and what prevented you from developing the habits in the past. Recognize those struggles, make adjustments that will help to prevent you from making the same mistakes a second time around, and learn from the past.
5. Remind yourself to get back up again.
With this, I’m not kidding… place constant reminders all around that remind you to pick yourself back up and keep moving forward. It might sound cheesy, but it is going to be crucial to developing and maintaining good habits. It’s going to help you to consciously prioritize the habits you wish to develop.
Place reminders on your bathroom mirror are of the habits you are trying to develop. Set reminders on your phone. Whatever you have to do to remind yourself of what your goals are, do it. It’s going to help you to prioritize these habits, and it’s also going to remind you to pick yourself up if you do fall off.
6. Encourage yourself every step of the way.
If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Encourage yourself every step of the way, pick yourself right back up, and continue to move forward no matter what challenges and obstacles you might have faced in the past.
You are not going to be perfect. As hard as it might be to comprehend, there are going to many instances in which you forget about the habits that you are trying to implement into your life, or you just simply fall off. But giving up will never get you any closer to developing good habits. It will only move you further away.
7. Find ways to reward yourself for staying on track.
One of the reasons we develop many bad habits is because we get temporary satisfaction from them. Drinking, shopping, picking our nails, all of these habits help to reduce the stress that we may be experiencing. But they will only do so briefly.
This is why it’s going to be beneficial to reward yourself for staying on track. In doing so, you are helping to positively reinforce the behaviors that will help you develop and maintain good habits. It will also help you to think more consciously about your behaviors and stay more motivated towards changing your ways.
The more you focus on developing good habits right now and repeatedly act on them, they sooner they start to become automatic. Anything you do for a long time (good or bad) will eventually become a habit, and once it does, it will just become second nature for you.
This is why it’s important to get back on course as soon as you can. You might fall off for a bit, but recognize when you do, and use these tips to help you get back to developing the habits that are going to truly benefit you. Anything is possible, just as long as you are willing to work hard for it.