If you’re blessed with an abundance of self-discipline, you probably have more good habits than you know what to do with. But if your inner disciplinarian tends to slack-off and get beaten down, you might need to trick yourself into good behavior.
Here are some tricks (I mean tips) that have worked for me:
#1 – Know Yourself
Pay attention to what motivates and gratifies you.
Are you the type who likes checking off boxes? Rewarding yourself with treats? Charting your progress? Or do you respond better to a bull whip? Do you honor your commitment to others more than self? Or to self more than others? Do you find competition stifling or energizing?
What inspires you to action?
The better you understand yourself, the better (accountability) traps you’ll be able to lay.
#2 – Be Reasonable
The quickest way to kill a productive habit is to make it too grand and difficult to achieve.
Keep it simple. Once you lure yourself on the path with easily attainable goals, you’ll be so addicted to the positive reinforcement, you won’t want to quit!
#3 – Keep Your Eye on the Goal
Commit your actions to the short term habit while you keep your sights on the long term goal.
This clever bit of misdirection will keep you from getting obsessed with the act of habit-building. Otherwise you might find yourself building a bridge to nowhere.
The objective is not to instill a productive habit, the objective is to achieve the purpose of the habit.
But take care! This trick can easily be used to justify quitting. The way to avoid that is to…
#4 – Adapt
If you find yourself resistant to a new habit, tweak it.
Just because a strategy works for someone else does not mean it will work for you. Remember #1 and #3—Know Yourself and Keep Your Eye on the Goal.
If you want your new habit to thrive, it needs to blend in with your lifestyle and your nature—not someone else’s. Otherwise, it will feel forced and you will rebel against it.
#5 – Ride the Momentum
Once you establish a productive habit, use your feeling of accomplishment to build another.
Just as success breeds success, empowering action stimulates more action. So, if you’re on a roll, don’t stop! You’ll find the next habit much easier to build.