Small Steps Make All the Difference: 5 Simple Steps to Build a New Habit

2) Leave Cues

In his book entitled “The Power of Habit“, Charles Duhigg explains that our habit was formed following a 3-part-process: the cues, the routines, and the rewards. The cue act as a trigger for us to start an action, of which we follow through by adhering to a routine, then we arrive at the reward which is whatever benefits we get by completing the routine. When we get something positive out of whatever actions we do, we tend to repeat it, until it becomes a habit.

Following this logic, a good way to build a habit is to leave enough cues around to remind you of your goal, while removing other competing cues. For example, having snacks (cue) lying all around your house would most probably increase the frequency of you consuming them (routine), so if you want to lose some weight, removing the snacks from sight and place sport equipment at easily noticeable spots would most likely increase your frequency to exercise. Writing your goals down and leave them at where you can see everyday helps, too!

3) Set a Schedule

When we think of goals, we oftentimes think of deadlines. The problem with this approach is that it simply go against how we as human tend to form habits. Deadlines are suggestive of an end. A full stop. I have seen people pulling off extraordinary feat within a short time period, only to lose steam and revert to their old habits after the goal was met. But that’s not what we want is it? We want to have a lasting, healthy habit we can stick to, something that we are comfortable doing and is going to continuously improve our life? Well, set a schedule instead of deadlines, and you’ll see a shift in your performance.

Start slowly by experimenting with different schedules to find the one you’re comfortable with, then stick to it as best as you can. Focus on acting consistently, before trying to increase your performance level. If you do miss the schedule, no worries, it is the cumulative work rather than a single misstep than will determine your success. Just try to get back on track and resume the normal schedule as best as you can. The beauty of this approach is that you’ll feel less guilty of your missteps, as it operates on a continuous process, rather than a deadline where you can only try to achieve it once. If you stick to the schedule, slowly but surely you’ll inch ever closer to your goal.

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