Sticking to a Habit

On zenhabits, Leo Babauta posted an interesting article about “sticking to a habit“.

The skill to stick to a habit is super important because this makes the difference between most successful and not successful people. Good habits we can stick to can be eating healthy, learning constantly, doing sports, getting up early, taking care of our relationsships and so on.

Leo Babauta points it out: “The hardest thing for most people, when it comes to building habits, is sticking to it long enough for it to become ingrained.” And this is what we all know. I started playing guitar – quitted. Started learning Thai – quitted. And so on…

In the article are 8 points listed why we don´t stick to a habit. Do you know some of those?

  1. Habit is too difficult.
  2. You don’t enjoy doing it.
  3. Too many habits at once (habits are hard!).
  4. Too many other things going on.
  5. Changes in routine (sick, travel, visitors, big project at work).
  6. Not really motivated to do it.
  7. You talk yourself out of it.
  8. You miss a day or two and get discouraged.

I know some of those points and as I mentioned I´ve – sadly – quitted some habits already.

On the other hand some years ago I started reading intensively, developing myself, started blogging and attending seminars. This became one of my habits. 2 years ago I put my goals on the wall and wrote “I´m doing the golden hour (learning/selfdeveloping) at least 5 times a week” – and I did.

This is an illustrative example for a habit because I feel guilty whenever I don´t read or learn 3 days in a row. I´m just not feeling comfortable don´t doing it. In a former article I shared Derek Sivers statement which I really like and what fits perfectly: It´s not about what you love doing. It´s what about what you hate not doing)

My own opinion why I stick to this habit is not only the common “because I eventually started enjoying it” (even though I of course enjoy it …) – it´s more because I see and value the results.

This habit opened a lot of doors, led me to interesting places, got me to get in touch with interesting people and broadened my horizon. I would miss posting on selfvestors or talk with people about those articles and topics.

Transfer this to sports. It´s not only about enjoying sports, it´s about achieving goals. It´s about being in shape and feeling comfortable. Whenever a person compliments you to be in good shape, it´s like even more fuel for our habits.

Leo says everybody can learn the skill to stick to a habit. One just needs to practice the “habit skill” enough to master any other skill or habit.

Do the easiest possible habit when you first start.

You want to practice the habit rules by doing something crazily easy. It will seem a little ridiculous, but spend a little time doing something ridiculous if you really want to be good at it.

Some ideas for habits to start with:

  • Drink a glass of water each day.
  • Put your clothes in your hamper.
  • Wash your bowl when you’re done.
  • Say thank you every morning.
  • Drink tea each afternoon.

Too easy? Try something harder, and if you fail, then promise me you’ll try one of these.

After being used to the “Habit Skill” we can try harder ones like eating, sports and so on. Leo lists different rules to finally stick to a habit.

The 8 rules are:

  1. Once habit at a time
  2. A tiny habit
  3. Once a day: Start small and expand after a habit is ingrained.
  4. Focus on starting: “The only thing you need to do is start!”
  5. Enjoy doing it
  6. Watch your thoughts: Don´t let negative self-talk power you.
  7. Don´t miss two straight days
  8. Be accountable: Keep friends updated – so they can kick your a** when you get sloppy

Now it´s up to us! This sunday is a perfect day to form a new habit – go for it :-) 


photo credit: WA State Library via photopin cc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>