Yesterday I wrote about building up a new habit. Some habits do not require you to gain new skills (e.g. eat more fruit, walk every day). Some habits do (e.g. learning to code, draw, run a 10K). When you first try to build up new habits in those areas, you are going to suck. Your code will suck, your drawings will look like crap, your running might be difficult and painful. To deal with this, you need to do two things.
One thing is to make your goal to suck less in the time to build up your new habit. If you are drawing every day, don’t worry if it sucks. Aim to suck less than the last day. To do that, you will need to do two things:
- pay attention to where your new habit sucks and make some notes on where they suck
- research how to make such suckage go away
- apply what you learned from your research
If you are learning to run and it is hard, research how to make it easier. Maybe you need to stretch more, maybe you need to vary your routine, maybe you need to just cut yourself some slack. If you are learning to draw, maybe you need to draw different things, or maybe you need to draw the same thing every day, or maybe you need better media. You get the idea.
For more good advice on this, see this post by Austin Kleon. In that post you can get a PDF of the calendar pictured above if you need a way to track your progress to less suckage.
And what happens if you keep working on sucking less? Eventually you will find you don’t suck at all. (Or if you do think you suck, everyone else will think you are good and wonder why you think that. :))
It’s a new year, and you may not only be fed up with the pandemic but with the bad habits you picked up during the pandemic. You – ok, and me! – need new habits. While there a billion trillion guides on how to build healthy habits, here’s a nice article from the New York Times to help get you going: How to Build Healthy Habits.
In a nutshell:
- Start small and stack/tie your new habit
- Do it daily
- Make it easy
- Reward yourself
Stacking or tying your new habit involves tying your new habit to your daily habits and routines. For example, if you drink several cups of coffee each day and you want a habit of eating more fruits and vegetables, then have a piece of fruit every time you go have a coffee. To make it easy, put the bowl of fruit next to the coffee machine. To reward yourself, have a small — small, not big! — piece of chocolate after completing the new habit. To do it daily, tie it to a routine or current habit you do daily or more.
Remember it takes time to build a new habit. According to the article, building a new habit can take “from 18 to 254 days. The median time was 66 days”. So give yourself some time. And start small and pace yourself.
A few more thoughts:
- If it starts getting boring, challenge yourself. Or vary your habit.
- If it starts getting hard, cut back, perhaps to the minimum amount (but not zero).
- Get a coach or cheerleader, even if it your spouse, your best friend, or even your kids. (Kids love to cheerlead if they get to make noise. :))
- Track that new habit. I like the journal below. Other people like putting Xs through a calendar. Whatever makes you proud of your accomplishments.
- At first, focus on the fact you are started. Don’t think about how far you are going. Think about that you are going at all.
(Top Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash. Bottom Photo by Prophsee Journals on Unsplash)
Perhaps you’ve developed some bad habits over the pandemic. Habits you want to shake off. You might need help developing new and better ones.
Here’s two things that can help. First is James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. He takes a methodical approach to how habits form and how you can break them.
Second, there is the habitlist app that can help keep you going on your way to building new habits.
If you really struggle with developing new habits, try this. Make up a habit that takes little time and effort and practice making it a new habit. For example, you could take 30 seconds each day just to stretch. Or 10 seconds each day to breathe deeply. Heck take 5 seconds each day to say: I can develop new habits. 🙂 The point isn’t so much the habit as it is developing the ability to form habits. Once you can form some really basic but good habits, other habits that you might struggle with will get easier.
You either are keeping your New Year’s Resolutions (yay!) or you have shelved them. If the latter, cheer up. You don’t need to wait a year to resolve to be better. And you don’t need to necessarily make a big commitment either. Maybe just a week of doing something for the better is enough to make an improvement in yourself. A week may be just the thing to kick start you and send you off in a better direction.
Sound good? Great. And if you are stuck for ideas, check out this: C’mon, It’s Just 7 Days recipes and how-tos from Food52.
It’s not just about food. If you are looking for a week of challenges to try out, read the articles there.
The articles are fun even if you aren’t looking to change. A lot can happen in a week.