One of the challenges people face nowadays comes from the low threshold of impact habits have on their lives. People become more and more Impatient when building a new skill, gaining knowledge or sustaining habits. According to a widely communicated research in the APA community, the level of impatience in people has risen for the last decade by more than 17% reaching numbers higher than 62%. The gadget we use, people willing to know everything here and now by using real-time search engines have eroded their level of patience when building knowledge and skills and sustaining them in time.
In a fast-paced world environment, people become less patient and less able to build and sustain habits in time. This declining skillset has a very large impact on the way we learn and develop as humans and professionals. It impacts our planning skills, our willingness to reach end results and our willingness to impact results for good.
In a society like this people, sustaining habits in time are seen as heroes, authors write books about them, articles are coming out, they are seen as leaders defining direction.
But is it really so hard to build a habit? What do we really need to do to say in time that we have sustained a habit, leading to greater results and real growth and development?
When researching different sources, you will find different systems, number of steps and methods to help you copy the best practice someone has created for itself while building and sustaining habits in time. In my experience, I have also created an individual approach to the process of building and sustaining habits. My list of actions is working very well for me, that is why I’m offering it to you in your research on the best method to build a sustainable habit. It includes seven different action steps:
Focus on ONE habit
If you try to learn how to paint walls you start doing one movement at a time until you learn it and then you move to the next. Why being with a different approach to building a habit. Researchers have found that 87% of people fail to build habits because they try to spread their attention between more than two different habits. Putting so much energy on different things lowers your level of attention. Building habits, on the other hand, requires you to be focused and have the patience to details. Building a habit then is most successful when you focus on one habit for a particular period of time.
Focus on NEW HABIT
When trying to rebuild a failed before habit 89% of participants in an experiment, conducted in Norway in 2017 have failed. We often expand negative experience and minimize a positive one. It is part of the 21st-century society culture (according to an HBR study from 2015). If you want to succeed in building a habit then you need to start clear. Scratch everything and plan how to move forward with the planned building steps. Do not tempt yourself to try to rebuild a habit that you have failed. In time you will get to the same result as the previous time. And, a habit that you didn’t sustain has never been a strong internal motivator to your actions and won’t be.
Build habit using BABY STEPS
An often made mistake by more than 94% of the people trying to build a new habit (according to LBR study from 2016) is that they tried to build a habit in one step. A habit is the product of a complex map of actions happening in a long period of time. If you try to do it as a one-time event you will fail. Taking baby steps means that you must try until you succeed, learning from the mistakes you make in the process and using them to change experience and final results.
Prepare a plan for OBSTACLES
To avoid or minimize something you need to first know that it is possible to happen. To be able to react on obstacles you will have to first identify potential ones and categorize them by factors (my personal list includes factors like frequency, impact, continuance, and reason). Then you will need to agree to yourself how will you react when an obstacle is identified. That will create clarity not only on potential obstacles, but also deadlines for reactions, possible delays in the process of building habits, etc.
Build a HABIT ACCOUNTABILITY
People often mistake motivation, engagement, and accountability. While motivation is an internal factor, engagement depends on the environment specifics, accountability is the drive to succeed. If you want to build a habit you will need to stick to your plan and do it as many times as needed, so that you can say at the end that you have built the habit. Planning for a change and sticking to it while the obstacles change, showing persistence in the process as long as it needs to ensure the positive final result is crucial for the process. Accountability in terms of the building means to exit your comfort zone and to continue until success without doubting on final results.
If you get something too often then you will lose interest in it. According to a psychological experiment, conducted with two groups of participants, those who have rewarded them often about small wins have sustained their energy level and persistence to wininig in 30% fewer cases than others who planned rewards on several major milestones. If you want to sustain accountability you must reward it in a way that your interests to reach particular milestones stays strong within time. When planning your way to successful habit building, make space for visibility on several major milestones. Reward when reaching a milestone should be motivating for you to move with energy to the next one.
Work on building NEW IDENTITY
Changing yourself and sustaining that change in time will lead you to form a new identity as a person. If you can’t make a difference in time, then you won’t be able to change. When building habit after habit, place each habit built in a larger form, representing a completely new identity you want to have as a person and professional. This will boost your internal motivation, will engage you in the process and will build on your accountability to the process of building something new and better.
Building sustainable new habits is a complex process starting with internal understanding for a needed change. If you make it to the level where you can name the needed change then you only need to plan and execute a process to lead you to your new desired states of mind, body, and life. If you stay unconscious about your state as a person and professional then building and sustaining habit for change and growth will only be a chimera you will never reach.