Good habits are these elusive things, aren’t they? Often, we find ourselves making promises to start one up around the New Year, only to have them unravel by the time the snow melts in Spring. So how do some people do it? How does a person wake up one day and find the motivation to keep going on the right track?
Take a small step in whatever goal you have.
Now, think smaller.
Nope, smaller than that.
Even smaller, please.
It’s hard to remind yourself that slow and steady wins the race — but it’s the truth. Making lifestyle changes stick involves building them from the ground up. Think of it this way: you’re becoming 1 percent better every day.
If we’re talking about physical fitness, try starting with 5 pushups in the morning. For nutritional health, replace one unhealthy snack (like a bag of chips) with a healthier one (like veggies). Trying to save money? Put your pocket change at the end of the day into a literal piggy bank.
Want to get more involved in your community? Sign up for a single shift at a food bank that same day. If it’s about relationships, do one small thing for a loved one. Want to excel at work? Read up on an important company policy.
Make It Easy
How likely are you to work out first thing in the morning if you have to hunt for your gym bag and clothes all over the house? Chances are that’s enough to kill the early bird motivation you were feeling.
Setting yourself up for success is going to get you farther than any number of motivational quotes in your Instagram feed. What time do you feel the most productive?
For some people, that’s in the early evening, when they don’t have any responsibilities hanging over their head. For others, it really is those early hours. Take advantage of your personal peak productivity time. No one cares what works for the CEO of so-and-so company or this actress who just won an Oscar.
Pick out your workout video on YouTube the night before. Pack your lunch for work (and kill two birds with one stone for your health and budget). Delegate a chore you usually do on Saturdays so you can make time to volunteer. Call ahead to make a dinner reservation for you and your partner later in the week. Put together a list of contacts at work that you’ll need on hand for an upcoming project.
Help can come in many forms when it comes to creating new habits. An accountability partner can take your success rate from a sad 46% to an impressive 65%. Whether you text regularly to update them on your progress or set up a meeting some time in the future to discuss how you’ve been making headway, they’re great cheerleaders.
If you don’t want other people involved in whatever change you’re making, there are plenty of good non-human ways to nail those habits.
For financial success, there are apps like Mint to get you on the right track. If you’re trying to watch your food and exercise, MyFitnessPal is one of the most common trackers.
For career success, a to-do list app like Todoist can keep you organized. Something as simple as a shared Google Calendar between spouses can make planning date night easier. Helping Hands even has an app to make sure you can find volunteer opportunities in your area.
Reinforce Good Habits
At the end of the day, the tool that helps the most is the one that provides positive reinforcement. Just tracking numbers or statistics can only take you so far when it comes to forming new habits.
Some people like to set little rewards for themselves when they hit certain milestones, like eating out at their favorite restaurant or grabbing coffee at their local little shop.
While these are good ways to reinforce your new habits, the most effective rewards are those you get surprised by. It might seem a little counterintuitive, but getting a reward that you weren’t necessarily anticipating or hadn’t planned out in advance is awesome for your motivation.
Ideally, these can look like promotions at work, or being able to afford an emergency without going into debt. Those kinds of natural rewards are often few and far between, though.
With an app like Avibra, you can get rewarded regularly for those good habits, though. This new platform lets you connect up all those other little habit trackers we were talking about earlier — spending history, activity with your Fitbit or other wearable, social media and others — to identify your good habits.
To motivate you, the app gives you rewards in the form of life insurance coverage. You start out with $10,000-$25,000 in coverage, getting weekly boosts based on successful good behaviors.
Once you’ve figured out a good way to keep yourself motivated, you’ll have a much easier time adopting (and sticking to) those good habits. It might not feel “fun” in the moment to do things like start a savings account or take an online class to help your career, but with a little bit of effort you can figure out ways to keep the good habits chugging along.