4 Reasons You Are Missing Your Habits
We’re almost 2 weeks into our habits challenge, and now is the perfect time to check in with yourself and your coach.
Which habits are you consistently hitting every day? Which habits are you struggling with?
If you’ve missed more than a day or two of a specific habit, then it’s time to do some reflecting.
Why are you missing certain habits?
Is it a lack of planning or motivation? Or are your habits just not the right habits for you?
After talking with many of you individually and doing a version of this habits challenge with my wife for the last 90 days, I’ve realized a few patterns of why we might struggle with certain habits.
Here are 4 reasons you might be missing certain habits and what to do about it…
Reason #1: You aren’t prioritizing your toughest habit
Solution: Do your toughest habit first. If it’s working out, work out first thing in the morning. If it’s meditating, do some mindful breaths before even rolling out of bed. If it’s drinking more water, start each day with a full glass of water. It sounds obvious, but sometimes these obvious things, don’t really become obvious until we start paying a little more attention.
I learned this the hard way as my wife Nikki and I have been doing a version of this habit challenge for nearly 90 days now. For the first 60 days, I had a morning routine in place where I would write in the 5-Minute Journal, read the Daily Stoic, and then do some meditation/breathwork if I had time. Some days I would only have time for the 5-Minute Journal and the Daily Stoic, and then I would have to rush out the door before I did my meditation. Over 60 days it became clear that if I didn’t get my mediation done first thing in the morning, it probably wasn’t going to happen later in the day. It took me 2 months to realize it, but I finally decided to switch up the order.
I now start my morning routine with the Headspace App, and end with the 5-Minute Journal and Daily Stoic if I have time. Once I get the meditation out of the way, everything else seems easy. By simply switching up the order, and putting the hardest habit first (meditation), the number of days that I hit all 3 habits has gone up significantly.
Reason #2: Your habit is too grandiose.
Solution: Make your habit so damn small and simple that it’s impossible not to do it. This doesn’t mean you can’t exceed the habit and do more, it just means that in order for you to feel successful and continue building momentum each day, the habit needs to be insanely small.
Rather than meditating for 15 minutes a day (or even 5 minutes), simply set out to take 1 mindful breath per day.
Rather than doing a CrossFit or BeachFit workout every day, set out to walk or sweat for 5 minutes.
Rather than removing soda/la croix/alcohol/crystal light completely, set out to drink 1 glass of plain water to start or end your day.
Rather than eating 100% paleo throughout the day, set out to avoid all bars or sweets, whatever your specific weakness is.
The secret here is we are optimizing for momentum, not short-term results. As Warren Buffett puts it so well, “chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”
Reason #3: You don’t have a clear action plan or strategy.
Solution: Figure out an exact time you are going to do the habit each day. Put it in your calendar. Then figure out what current habits you may have to alter to make that happen.
If you need to meal prep for the next day, set a limit on how much time you can spend watching Netflix or on your phone.
If it’s avoiding social media, delete the Facebook and Instagram apps from your phone, or use an app like Freedom to block them from your phone and computer.
If you need to turn your phone on airplane mode at 7 pm, set an alarm for 6:55 pm every evening.
If you want to avoid eating processed foods or sweets, clear out all the junk food from your home, car, and office.
If you want to spend more time with your kids, create a list of 5-10 activities that you know they will love and do 1 of those each day.
If you want to track your habits daily, tape your chart to your bathroom mirror, put a copy in your car and on your refrigerator, and set it as the background on your phone.
A couple weeks ago when I was having trouble hitting my habit of spending 15 minutes outside, I realized it was because I felt guilty for taking time during the middle of the day to spend time on myself, instead of working. By scheduling work calls that I can take while walking outside, now I can keep the momentum of the work day going, and also fulfill an important habit that I was typically missing.
Don’t leave your habits to chance or willpower, set up systems to ensure that the actions are happening every day.
Reason #4: You haven’t prepared for the weekend, getting sick, or any other unforeseen event.
Solution: Take a moment and imagine your worst possible scenario as it relates to your habits. It could be a holiday weekend, your in-laws are in town, your traveling with friends, your feeling sick, or your swamped at work. Or imagine all of those things are happening at once. What things will you commit to making time for, even with all this craziness going on in your life? What things are non-negotiables for you daily?
We should know by now to expect the unexpected. So many of us still set our goals based on the best-case scenario, as if the bad times will never come. We seem to forget that the weekend shows up every 5 days. Holidays, vacations, relatives, getting sick, are the rule, not the exception.
If you can’t maintain a habit during the worst possible times or when your routine gets thrown off, then it’s not a habit, it’s a hope. Most of us will still brush our teeth every day no matter what happens in our lives. That is a true habit.
So plan for these worst-case scenarios in advance and set aside some time to maintain the minimum habits you have set for yourself. You can go back to being an all-star once things settle down again, but you’ll have maintained the momentum you worked so hard to build in the first place.
**If you have any unique or interesting tricks for making habits part of your daily routine, I would love to hear them. Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2018 01 25