How to Form a Good Habit

Bad habits are difficult to break and, likewise, good habits are hard to make. But they are definitely not impossible to adopt with determination and willpower. Here are some tips on how to make them stick.

Know what you want and why you want it

Take wanting to form the habit of sleeping early for example. Think why do I want to sleep early? It is good for me: I want to look good and be healthy and this, in turn, would allow me to look professional at work. Write these reasons down and remind yourself every time you fail to do sleep early. Yes, guilt-trip yourself!

What's stopping you?

Standing in the way of a good habit is often a bad habit. So, what's stopping you from sleeping early? List all possible reasons and distractions. But it is not just enough to be aware of them. You have to stop them and find practical ways to do so.

If surfing Facebook, Twitter and other websites before you turn in is taking up way too much time, you could stick a post-it note of the reasons why you want to sleep early on your monitor or laptop screen. And here's where your willpower plays an important role, stick to your resolution!

Start slow

Don't be overambitious and torture yourself by jumping right to sleeping at 10pm every night. You might be able to do it for a week or two, depending on your willpower, but slowly find yourself slipping back to sleeping at 2am before long. Just like it takes time to make a habit, it takes time to break your bad habit of sleeping late. Here, it is consistency over performance.

Set goals, track them and reward yourself

Start with small steps. If you sleep at 2am every night, do not try shaving off four hours at once. Start by sleeping at 1am for a week, then 12mn for another week before moving on to 11pm. Keep a calendar and give yourself a tick or a sticker on days you kept to your goal. You may reward yourself with a great breakfast or luxury coffee if you wish!

Nonetheless, do be realistic and factor in times when you may not be able to meet your goals for special, one-off occasions. For example, you may have a work event that requires you to stay out till 11pm. Don't beat yourself up for staying up late when there are good reasons for the exception.

Practice makes perfect

With enough repetitions, you tend to remember how to do something naturally and may even be able to do it on autopilot mode. Keep at it even when you feel so familiar with the action you don't have to think about it while doing it. You may, however, decrease the frequency you "practice" though.

Test time!

After you think the habit is formed, stop tracking yourself for a couple of weeks. Afterwards, reflect and see for yourself if the habit has really been ingrained in you. If not, keep at the steps suggested above. That said, having the habit ingrained in you doesn't mean you have to keep at it every single day.

For example, if you have been playing the piano every day for a couple of years, missing a couple of weeks is not going to return you to ground zero. You may not be as good at playing the piano after skipping practice for a few months, but that doesn't mean you have lost the ability to play. So, remember the value of accumulated time, and you will be surprised how much it counts at the end of the day.

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