You have big ideas about changing your life. You are going to start exercising more, eating right and practicing the guitar.
Maybe you’re going to cut back on your TV watching and read more in the evenings.
Whatever you’ve thought about doing – why was it so hard?!
Most of us try to start new habits by sheer willpower. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work.
Why? Studies have shown that our willpower is limited. We use it all day long as we choose which behaviors to do and which ones to avoid. Eventually, we run out of it and break down.
How many times have you been doing well with your diet only to finally give up, eat like crazy and gain all your weight back?
How many times have you had big plans at the beginning of the day to go for a run only to come home from work so tire that you decide to watch TV instead?
Shawn Achor cites numerous studies in his book, The Happiness Advantage, explaining all this. He also goes into proven ways to increase your chances for success.
1) Make it easy to do your new habit.
Which is easier, practicing your guitar or watching TV? Right.
You have to go upstairs, then get the guitar out of the closet, then get it out of the case, then find your music, and then start playing.
Let’s make practicing the guitar easier. I have my guitar on a stand, in the living room, ready to play. I have music for it on my iPad so I can jump into a song in about 5 seconds.
2) Minimize distractions.
If at all possible, do your new habit away from anything that could pull you away – cell phones, email, TV, etc.
3) Make it harder to do what you don’t want to do.
Take the batteries out of the remote and put them in a drawer. Now, it will take a lot more effort to watch TV instead of practice guitar.
4) Create your own “must follow” rules so you don’t have to keep making the same decisions.
“I will only watch TV after practicing my guitar for 30 minutes.”
Do this consistently for a month and your new behavior will become habitual.
What new habit do you want to start? Try these tips and let me know how it goes.