Anyone else ever hear the advice if you stick to something for 21 days it will become a habit? How many times have you actually made it to the 21 days? I can tell you that I have started the 21 days way more than I have finished.
Habits are tricky things. It involves changing yourself, and human brains are not about that work-hard life. The easier route involves justification, procrastination, and feigning ignorance. Real habits and keeping them require serious meditation and exercise.
I think one of my strongest skills is to declare new habits and then give up on them a few days later. Once I looked back on my journal and saw that my most popular type of entry wasn’t discussing my made-up boy drama, but telling my diary that “I’m going to write in you every day.” Sound familiar? It was a moment of self-loathing.
But it made me think about why I did have such a difficult time sticking to writing in my diary. And I came up with a couple reasons.
- I was not excited to do it every day. Because I put the pressure on myself to write every day, it felt like a chore. When things feel like chores, but are not actually a necessity for surviving, I stop doing them.
- I set too high of a goal. Going from zero to one hundred real quick is not a thing (even if Drake thinks so). Daily journal entries are hard work. Suddenly writing in a journal every day is even harder.
So with these reasons in mind, I reflected a bit on how I need to adjust my expectations for forming this new habit. I set a reasonable goal to write in my journal once a week. I set a time aside, Sunday evenings, which was solely for journal writing. And you know what happened? I freakin’ kept that habit. It was manageable and I started looking forward to it (journaling is very therapeutic).
And the thing is this works for me in multiple areas. When I wanted to start running and exercising, I had tried dozens of times to go every day. But when I finally allowed myself to expect something a little more reasonable, like going three times a week, I could do it with a lot less whining and a lot more enthusiasm. Now I’m going five to six times a week. I gave myself the time to build my habit toward my goal.
Goals and habits need to hold hands. They go together and so does giving yourself some slack. Changing and developing does not happen overnight. Life would just be too easy if that were the case. So have patience and forgiveness when you miss a day or two. But don’t give up hope. Put those running shoes on, write that blog post you’ve been putting off, and quit hitting the snooze button. You and I have stuff to do.
What habits and goals are you working on?