Break any big task into bite-size pieces, and it immediately becomes more manageable.We all know how hard it is to stay on track with diet, exercise, fitness, and skin care routines. And we all have habits, both good and bad. Making new, good habits can seem like a pain in the ass, but break any big task into bite-size pieces, and it immediately becomes more manageable.
You might think it takes doing something 21 days in a row to make it a habit. Lots of Google search results will tell you the same thing, but the science behind this number is elusive. Does it take 21 days to make anything a habit? Is it equally challenging to add flossing your teeth to your daily routine as creating, and sticking to, an exercise regimen or weight-loss plan?
You may have tried to master Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, and maybe you’re mulling over Gretchen Rubin’s research on habits. If you haven’t, don’t worry: they all point in the same direction: visualize your goal, be proactive, and do what works for you. Here are the steps to get you on your way.
1. Be Specific.Choose an achievable goal, and then visualize it. “I will lose 10 pounds by running five miles four times a week” trumps “I will get in shape.” “I want to eat healthier,” becomes, “I will eat salad for lunch four times a week.” Or if you are trying to reign in your spending, “I will shop online once a month and only spend $100.” The how is very important here, almost as important as the what. Breaking the process down into small chunks keeps things manageable and keeps you motivated. Who doesn’t like checking things off a list?
2. Be Proactive
Decide what you’re going to do, and then do it. You don’t have to wait for a Monday morning or talk it over with all your buddies. Once you get momentum going you will feel a boost and be more inclined to keep moving towards your goal. Another tactic is to implement if-then planning to help you at critical moments, when you might otherwise say, “eh, screw it.” This approach creates a strong link between a situation and an action. Or, in non-psych speak: Be prepared! If you give up sugar, have a plan for when the dessert menu arrives at a business dinner.