Updated: Mar 11, 2022
Did you know that the most effective way to improve your life is to establish good habits and stick to them?
Researchers have found that nearly half your daily actions are driven by habit, from your morning routine to how much exercise you get and the way you approach tasks.
Establishing and maintaining good habits needn’t be as much of challenge as it sounds if you take a micro habit approach. Instead of having big goals like ‘get fit,’ ‘lose weight’ or ‘get a new job,’ break them down into smaller more achievable goals.
Treat your personal goals as if they were work projects.
Work out what steps you need to take to succeed.
Start by working out what changes you want to make in the various parts of your life, from health to the office and your home life. By making some small changes in your life, you can make radical progress towards achieving your goals.
Mistakes That Can Trip-Up Even Micro Habits
You were on the right track. You set small goals for yourself, working to build micro-habits to take control of your life but suddenly everything went wrong. The changes you expected to see just weren’t there. And it seemed the harder you tried, the less momentum you gained.
What just happened?
Even when using micro-habits to change for the better, it’s easy to crash and burn. What you need to realise is that the fault wasn’t in you, but in your approach. We fail, even when the change is small, for several very common reasons:
1. You’re trying to take on too much at once. Because the habits were so small, chances are you piled them on, thinking that with small changes it didn’t matter. The problem is, you can’t form that many new habits all at once, and so by overloading yourself, you set yourself up for failure right at the start. Solve by scaling back. Establish one habit at a time. Once you have that one, then add another.
2. You’re staring at the finish line. By putting your focus on the goal instead of the habit, you’ve got your attention in the wrong place. Chances are you’re now rushing to get there and looking for shortcuts. The solution here is to realize that change takes time. Keep your eyes on the change you’re trying make now by keeping focused on the journey and not the destination.
3. You’re putting it off. Procrastinating is one of the most common problems in starting any habit, even small ones. Once you realize that this is your problem, you need to ask yourself why you’re putting things off – and what you can do to solve for that.
4. You’re not using your schedule. When using micro-habits, it’s easy to think that the change is so small that you don’t need to fuss about the when of getting things done. You assume that your goal is small (like drinking more water) can be accomplished by focusing on a vague deadline (like drinking more water during the day). Instead, you need to be intentional. Set reminders on your phone or pencil the micro-habit into your calendar. Make it a deliberate part of your day.
When you’ve tripped yourself up, the important thing to remember is that you were not the failure, your approach was. As the song goes, ‘pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.’ By understanding what went wrong, it’s easy to find a solution that will put you right back on track again. Micro habits – done correctly – will absolutely change your world.
Tips for Making Your New Micro-Habits Stick
You’ve decided to make some changes in your life. You’ve even come up with some new habits – small ones – to make the whole process easier. You’ve even put some of those micro-habits into motion. Good going, You!
Now comes the hard part – making the Micro Habits stick. How do you make small changes that last? Read on for some tips that will help keep you on track fairly indefinitely:
1. Start with using your smartphone. By scheduling reminders, you keep the habit front and centre in your life. Decide specific times where you want to get this micro habit done and then set up your phone to let you know when that specific time rolls around. If you don’t have a smartphone, or like the low-tech option, scribble your reminder on a sticky note and put it where you’re sure to see it. Something along the lines of “Water – 1:00 pm” should suffice to get the point across.
2. Try a new dialogue with yourself. If your micro habit isn’t time-based, then find other ways to make this micro habit a part of who you are. Start with “if-then” statements. Something along the lines of “If it’s Tuesday, then today I’m taking the bus and walking the rest of the way to work,” reminds you of that small habit to walk to work more often. By paying attention to how you speak to yourself, you start to rewire the old thought patterns and make your new micro habit a more natural part of your life.
3. Simplify the routine. Remember, these are supposed to be micro-habits, not major ones. So don’t get caught up in trying to make grand sweeping changes. Instead, focus on the small things that you can easily build into your existing routine.
4. Take away the old choice. If your goal is to drink more water, then stop buying soda and juice. If you want to walk more, don’t park near the building. By removing the old way, all you have left is your new way. Think about what needs to disappear out of your life to make your new micro-habits a success.
It’s not hard to make micro-habits stick. Mostly, you want to stay intentional in what you’re doing and keep focused on the habit itself rather than letting it get lost in the shuffle of day to day life. By using these tips, you’ll stay on track to make that habit a daily part of your life.
Why Tracking Micro Habits Helps You Succeed
By now you’ve probably heard that micro-habits will help you build lasting change in your life. But did you know that tracking micro-habits will help you to succeed that much faster?
Let’s look at how this works:
1. Tracking micro-habits helps to keep you motivated. By having a record of what you’ve been doing to make a change in your life, you can’t help but see all the areas where you have succeeded in building that change. Looking back at those changes is an incredible feeling and helps to give you that added push whenever you feel like you’re not making any progress at all.
2. You can see your progress. This reason goes with the first but takes it a little further than just motivation. Witnessing your progress shows you what you’ve already accomplished and helps you to see if you’re staying on track for your goals. This feedback helps you to hold your course, especially when you feel like you’re not doing something big enough to make a lasting difference. That visible record shows you just how far you’ve come.
3. Actions performed regularly are what become habits. By keeping track of these habits daily, you will feel obligated to perform that habit daily as well, thereby building the habit that much faster than you would if the effort was sporadic.
4. Tracking micro-habits makes you see patterns that help you build triggers that make habits work. By coupling a micro habit with another action that is already a habit, you’re more likely to succeed. Tracking shows you what else you’re doing, so you can find those triggers to couple with the micro habit in the first place. For example, if you already have the habit of brushing your teeth every day, think how much easier it is to a couple that action with the new micro habit of flossing.
By tracking your micro-habits your chance of success in making positive changes in your life will increase exponentially. You’ll also have the bonus of having built a record of the changes that you’ve successfully made in your life. A complete history of the positive changes, how they started and how you implemented them means that the next change you make will be that much more likely to succeed. You create your blueprint in your life and your future. A little leg work now will mean great strides in the future, and you’ll thank yourself for it.
How to Set Up Any Micro Habit for Success
Micro habits are so small that they feel like they should sort of succeed automatically. That’s what makes them so frustrating when, for whatever reason, they don’t.
The good news is, you can set up any micro habit for success with just three simple steps:
1. Focus on one micro-habit at a time. Because micro-habits are small, it’s easy to think you can create a whole slew of them to fix your life all at once. After all, they’re just small changes, right?
The problem is that even small changes can add up, especially when you have a whole big long list of them. So rather than getting caught up trying to remake yourself entirely, pick just one micro habit to establish. Then don’t allow yourself to pick up another one until the first is already well-established.
2. Link the new micro-habit to one that’s already in place. To do this, look at what you’re trying to establish. See if there is another habit you already have in place to which you can link this new micro habit. For example, suppose you want to start flossing. You could connect it to the already established routine in place for brushing your teeth. The act of brushing your teeth then becomes a trigger for the new micro habit, and so it becomes easy to remember to do it.
You might have to get a little bit creative to do this. If you’re not sure what to connect it with, ask yourself questions such as: What time of day do you want to perform this micro habit? Is there something else I do at that time every day? Is this micro habit somehow related to something I’m already doing regularly? Can I somehow link it to something else entirely but still see some alignment in my mind?
3. Set it in stone. Or at least place the micro habit on your schedule. Even a small habit such as drinking more water is established by simply setting a timer on your phone to remind you to drink every hour. Use your calendar, your timer, even a post-it note on a physical calendar hanging on your wall to remind yourself that you have set aside time just for this micro habit.
With these steps, any micro habit can be very easily set up for success. If you’re still flagging after all this, think of a small reward you can use to encourage yourself to perform this particular micro habit. Sometimes, every little bit helps.
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