I have recently started running again. Usually, I set myself a goal and I go all out until I hit my target. (My new goal is to run 21.1 km in under 2 hours) But once the running goal is achieved, I tend to fall into lazy habits again. So how do I keep on maintaining good habits?
What is a good habit?
Before we get into how to maintain good habits, we need to understand what a good habit is. The free dictionary defines it as A behaviour that is beneficial to one’s physical or mental health, often linked to a high level of discipline and self-control.
Whereas many of these good habits can be general and common, it’s better you define your own good habits. At least define them in your own way. One person’s good habits will not fit another person’s good habits. It often helps you to define your values first. Knowing your values will allow you to form habits that you will be more likely to keep.
For example, my values include family, time outdoors, and exercise. One habit I have no trouble keeping is taking regular walks in the park with my family (That includes my best friend, Bruno!)
How habits work
The world counts have a great article on Habits. The importance of Good Habits. They explain habits in an interesting way.
There is a habit loop.
- A trigger: This can be a place, time, person or even feeling
- Routine: Something you do because of the trigger (i.e., watch TV)
- Reward: This is a chemical response from your brain.
Because of the reward, the habit loop is reinforced. The loop is a self-reinforcing mechanism that over time becomes automatic. Knowing this means we can create good new habits.
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What is the importance of maintaining good habits?
So why is it even important to maintain these good habits?
They can keep you healthy
Eating good foods, exercise and mental health can all be set by creating habits. You need to identify them in your unique frame of reference and set the habit in motion.
They help you to reach your goals
Habits are the building blocks of doing things consistently to produce results. You will need to tweak, change, and reset your habits from time to time when you need to make the step to your next level.
If developed correctly, they keep you focused
By forming the correct habits, it can keep you focused on your goals. For example, I have a daily method of operation which includes a list. My habit is to get this stuff done first. If you want to learn more about DMO, check out this post. Daily Method Of Operation Simple and Fun.
Habits get you through the mundane
And let’s face it, a lot of the things we know we need to do to get where we want to be are not “fun”. Some of them can be rather mundane and easily skipped if not placed into a good habit. One thing I would not do if it were not a habit is to follow up with prospects.
6 ways for maintaining good habits
So now we know what a habit is, how habits work and why habits are important to keep. So here are 5 ways that will help you in maintaining them.
1 Access your goals (Regularly)
It will be very hard to keep a habit that is not in line with your goals. Make sure you have a defined goal, and a plan to get there. If these are in place, it will help you form the habit necessary to get there.
2 Start today
Start immediately. Don’t wait till next Tuesday. Habits are all about momentum. The momentum you have from the thought of what you need to do only lasts for this moment. Next Tuesday there will be an unforeseen problem preventing you from starting.
3 Start small
If you are unfit and decide to run 10 km tomorrow, you might do it once or twice. But when you feel sore and in pain tomorrow and the next day, your body will relate it to a painful experience. What we need for the habit is related to a good feeling. Rather run 1 km a day every second day for a couple of weeks. Build on that once the habit is formed.
4 Schedule it
Related to starting today, and starting small, just make sure it’s in your calendar. To begin with, it may be hard, so get it done first. Get it out the way. You’ll feel better when you get into bed at night. That is the feeling you need. In time the habit will form, and one day you even notice you are doing it. That is the ZEN in forming habits.
5 Get Accountability
If you find it hard to get started on your own, get a friend to hold you accountable. Just let them know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Share your schedule with them. Hopefully, they check in with you regularly. Eventually, hopefully, you will be telling them of your daily success before they ask the question!
6 Create new goals
I started this article with my problem. How will I keep a good habit going once my goal is achieved? Well, I think I may have answered it here above in a way. I need to make sure it aligns with my values (checked) and I will need to create a new goal before I reach this one.
The new goal after this one is: Run a marathon. 42.2 KM
Just a note here: Make sure you enjoy your success in between goals. Otherwise, you might lose the point of why you are doing what you are doing
As important as it is to form habits, a habit can go into overdrive. Picking up this overdrive can be tricky, as habits are invisible when in motion. So just remember to regularly access your values, improve your goals, and listen to those around you. You should be able to spot one in overdrive.
So, happy habit forming!
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