Sticking with it – Tips for Building Daily Habits

Sticking with it

A friend recently asked me if I had any tips for sticking to a 30 day yoga programme. As I was typing a reply I realised I had lots of ideas that might help her practice daily and complete the programme. And I realised that this could make a great blog post.

Over the last while I’ve been building daily habits that make me feel more happy, healthy and in balance than I have before. I’ve not always been great at sticking to something day in and day out but I’ve picked up some strategies over the last few years that have really helped me.

What habits do I do daily?

  • Yoga – I’m up to 372 days of consecutive daily practice
  • Keeping a Gratitude Journal – I did this every day last year and have started a new journal this year
  • Morning Pages – I do these most days (about 90-95% of days in 2017).
  • Daily Self Nurturing Activities – since around April 2017. I’ve written a blog post all about it.
  • I also put Slimming World in this category – I don’t always follow the plan daily (if I did I’d be at my target weight by now!) but my commitment to Slimming World has been ongoing since the end of August 2016. This is now the longest time (that I can remember) that I’ve been active and engaged in my weight loss efforts. I have consistently attended a weigh in every week and I’m at my lightest weight for a long time (probably over 10 years).

I’m planning to share more about my weight loss journey this year. I know that it can be a contentious issue but I’m keen to share how being a member of Slimming World has helped me develop healthier habits.

My Tips for Sticking With It and Building Good Habits

You could be looking to do any of the things above or something completely different. These are my suggestions for what might help you in building daily habits.

Be clear about what you want

For example: I want to…

  • do Yoga everyday
  • write down at least one thing I’m grateful for every day
  • write Morning Pages everyday
  • stick to the Slimming World plan and end the year lighter than I started
What tools could help you stick to it

For example: do you need a yoga mat, a journal, a notepad, to join a slimming club?

What time of day will you complete your activity (most days)

I tend to fit yoga in when I can (I aim to do it when my son is at school on weekdays), I list my gratitude every night in bed before I go to sleep, I write my morning pages as soon as I wake up.

Slimming World is a little tricker – what I do that helps keep me on track is schedule time to do a weekly meal plan and a shopping list (then the shopping itself) and I write down what I eat as I eat it…to begin with I needed lots of reminders to do this, now it’s second nature. And my weekly meeting is scheduled into my calendar.

What is the best way to remind yourself?

You could:

  • Set a daily reminder on your phone
  • Put it on your to do list
  • Have a calendar displayed somewhere you will see it (and cross off each day as it’s completed)
  • Put a post it on your bathroom mirror
  • Create a tracker to mark off your progress (great for Bullet Journallers!)
What is your motivation? Why do you want to do this?

This is so important when/if you get to the stage where it gets hard and you don’t want to do it. Remember why you started. Write your reason down somewhere:

  • as a note on your phone
  • email it to yourself
  • put it on a post-it on your mirror
  • find a relevant quote and make it the screensaver on your phone or computer

Revisit your reason when needed. The text for my daily alarm to wake up is “Morning Pages – they make you feel good”…a combination of my reminder and my reason!

Go easy on yourself

If you miss a day don’t let that mess up the whole plan – just get back to it the next day. Sometimes life does get in the way. Doing something 90% (or enter any percentage here that is an improvement on your current situation) of the year is better than doing it for 5 days and giving up completely because you missed day 6!

Have a contingency plan
  • For me, a 5 minute yoga practice counts!
  • If I forget to write my daily gratitude before bed I write it as soon as I remember. The time I forgot to take my gratitude journal away with me – I emailed my notes to myself to add in later.
  • If you can’t make your usual weigh-in, know when other local meetings take place to attend.
Get yourself accountability / Go public

Some people thrive when they have accountability of some kind. I’ve talked about my Obliger tendency and how having outer accountability helps me to achieve my goals. Would getting yourself some outer accountability help you stick with building daily habits? You could try going public with your intentions on social media.

Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies are first introduced in Better Than Before and help you work out how you deal with inner and outer expectations. 

I’ve created an infographic to summarise my tips…building daily habits infographic3

Don’t Wait – You can Start TODAY

If you’re reading this and thinking –

  • it’s too late – the new year has started and I haven’t started X Y or Z, or
  • I did start and I already failed

STOP!

In my opinion it doesn’t matter – you can create a fresh new start for yourself whenever you choose! Think about where you could be next week, month, season or year from now if you start TODAY.

I have learnt that, for me, it’s far easier to do something everyday than a different frequency. Trying to get to the gym 2 or 3 times a week doesn’t work long term for me. Committing to daily yoga practice (even 5 minutes on those tough days) does. Writing whenever I have “spare time” NEVER works but making time every single day to write (even when the words make no sense!) makes me a writer!

Some other ideas for sticking with it

  • Compete with yourself and no-one else – try and get a milestone streak (10 days in a row, 30, 50, 100…)
  • If you break your streak – start again and try to beat it!
  • Find a community that supports the thing you want to do. I LOVE Instagram and have found awesome communities on there for slimming world, yoga and bullet journalling. I’m also a member of Facebook groups that support my goals. Surround yourself with others that inspire you to continue on your journey.
  • Use habit building strategies to help you – I’ve already talked about Gretchen Rubin’s book “Better Than Before” – in it, she shares 21 strategies for building good habits and breaking bad ones. She also has some tip sheets on her website for which strategies could work with what you want to achieve.

I think a lot of these tips could work for building habits at whichever frequency you choose (not just daily). What are your tips for sticking with it and building daily habits? Or habits in general?