Any habit worth creating will take intention, attention, and the magic of time. If you want to establish positive habits, do yourself a favor and follow the example of the tortoise, not the hare.
Think about the last time you tried to change yourself. Remember that time you wanted to get up an hour earlier every day so you could get a head start? What time are you getting up these days?
Then there was that time you read an article about the top 10 habits of successful people and tried to implement all ten at once. How’s that going for you?
Changing behaviors is difficult. Change takes time. If you honestly want to change, consider approaching it like the tortoise: slow and steady wins the race.
1. Focus on one change at a time.
Well engrained behaviors are especially difficult to change. You can teach an old dog new tricks, it just takes patience and focus. Not that you’re an old dog! But if you have any experience in business, you have lots of habits – and they’re not all good.
Give your new behavior the attention it needs by letting it be the one and only change you make right now. There will be plenty of time to add more once this one is in place.
Maybe it’s getting up earlier, maybe it’s prioritizing your day the night before.
What one change would you like to make?
2. Smaller steps are better than leaps.
This will be difficult for the overachievers (yes, I mean you!) Anyone that is determined to improve themselves is going to lean toward the ‘Go big or go home’ mentality. You may have also heard of the BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) approach. These are great to motivate, but trying to change everything at once will only end in tears (and failure.)
Bigger visions are made up of smaller steps. If your BHAG goal is to implement all 10 of those successful habits, you need to start with one habit and make it small enough that you barely notice. Maybe get up 15 minutes earlier this week instead of a full hour.
What’s the smallest change you can make toward changing your behavior?
3. Don’t be fooled by short term success.
I love the honeymoon phase of change! Everything is going so well. You’ve set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and you haven’t missed a day in almost 2 weeks. You’ve got this! It’s too easy. So you decide to jump ahead and set your alarm for the full 60 minutes earlier. Or worse, you decide to get up that hour earlier AND go for a jog each morning. Why not? You’re on a roll!
This may work for you, but I’ve seen and experienced this phase too many times to not warn you about it.
The true test of your new behavior is sustaining it when times are difficult, not when things are going as planned.
Don’t let your confidence derail your success.
Right now, you want to know -How long will it take? I’m sure you’ve heard a magic number: 21 days? 30 days? 90 days?
There isn’t a magic number. It takes as long as it takes. The more ingrained or more challenging the change, the longer it will take to be established as your new behavior.
One thing you can count on – the journey isn’t complete without a detour.
4. Expect detours.
The one thing we all try to avoid, but shouldn’t is the obstacle, the detour, failing.
If creating your desired behavior were easy, you would already be doing it.
Creating a new behavior that is repeated regularly to the point that it becomes second nature only happens when you are able to return to the behavior easily after an interruption.
You know – it’s about getting back on the horse after falling. It’s about getting up earlier after sleeping in on that raining Sunday after going out on the town Saturday night.
Detours, derailments, falling off the horse – happens all the time. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s an opportunity to strengthen your new behavior. It’s an opportunity to recommit. It’s how true habits are formed.
Without the resistance of these obstacles, you will not form your new behavior.
The Tortoise Has It Right