The Secret to Adopting New Habits Successfully in 5 Easy Steps
No matter what type of habit you want to adopt, you may discover that changing your everyday behavior is more demanding that you expected. It could happen that you’ve tried before to adopt this new habit, but it got deflected from your goal.
Prior to habit changing, you’ll need to know what role you would like to have. E.g., if you’d like to become a more efficient Project Manager, what habits will be relevant to help you achieve this? Understand this in the positive rather than negative. E.g., if you want to stop giving your employees mainly negative feedback, you should dedicate yourself to give the employees 3 times more positive feedback as negative feedback, every day. This change will make it easier for you to recognize your progress in developing this habit, rather than only criticizing yourself for failing up.
1. Create an environment for success
Let’s assume you want to adopt a habit – to complete your most important task for the day before you do any other work (this is a habit of the most effective Project Managers). In order to facilitate this habit, you should make changes in your environment. You may discover that even if you dedicate completely to your most important task first, other tasks come up that distract you from your goal. After spending an hour responding to emails that came in early in the morning, you’ll realize you’ve been redirected from your purpose and have been sucked into helping resolve other people’s problems. Making a few simple changes in your environment will help you to prevent this situation. At the end of each work day, determine the most important task you need to complete the next work day and what you’ll need to complete it, and then get these items prepared. Only if it is absolutely important to check your email every morning, you will probably have more success with adopting your habit of doing the most important task first – if you concentrate on it for the first half hour of the day.
2. Be patient if the new habit isn’t developed (even months later)
Many scientists research on what it takes to make new habits and break old ones and found that to do either almost always takes longer than the commonly-held perception of 21 days. Coming to a point when practicing a new habit (or losing an old one) feels automatic, they found, takes an average of 65 days. If you adopt a simpler habit (e.g. drinking water every day) it may take you less time, more complex habits (e.g. doing 50 sit-ups each morning) will likely take 80 or more days before they feel automatic.
3. Don’t panic if you mess up once or twice
When the habits you’re trying to adopt are difficult, it is unrealistic to think that once you’ve committed to adopting them, you’ll practice them every day without fail. Reports show that missing a day does not, in fact, have a significant impact on your ability to adopt a new habit. The crucial thing is to recover from the fault fast. Missing one day is acceptable, but doing this into five days may disturb your ability to make your new habit part of your automatic daily activity. You should leave faults in the past, and to focus on what you have to gain by holding with your goal of developing a new habit.
4. Spread the news about your new habit
This is also called responsibility. Even though for creating a new habit it’s not necessary to have a partner or group that really holds you responsible; what matters is that other people know about the habit you’re trying to develop, and will know if you break it. You must be aware that others will know if you don’t keep up with your habit is sufficient motivation for many people to stick with their goals.
5. Celebrate small successes
Punishing yourself up for missing a day or two in the practice of your new habit is more likely to be more de-motivating than it is to be motivating. A better strategy is to keep track of how many days you’ve successfully carried out your new daily habit and reflect on what you’ve gained by adopting this habit. If the benefits from adopting your new habit are less immediate (as in a diet), you can further motivate yourself to keep with your habit by setting up intermittent rewards for yourself – so long as you choose a reward that doesn’t break the habit. With time, as your habit becomes a more automatic part of your daily activity, the rewards become less necessary.
The tips from this article will significantly increase the probability that you’ll successfully adopt your new habit to become a more effective Project Manager. And, as with all important projects, the best time to start is now.