Forming new habits can be life-changing — if you do things like creating a simple exercise habit, start to meditate or follow through on a plan to eat more fruits and vegetables, your health and happiness can be transformed in a matter of months.
But sticking to a habit can be difficult, because life gets in the way. And we get discouraged when the habit gets disrupted. How can we form habits without all the struggle?
Form new habits without the struggle
I’m going to share two strategies that I’ve found to be priceless:
Slipping into the habit; and
Leveraging your smartphone
They’re so painless you will barely feel them. And your life can be changed as a result, with very little effort.
Slipping into new habits
The first strategy is not to try to create a full habit, but to slide into it effortlessly.
Let’s say you want to meditate every day. Instead of setting aside 20 minutes and a meditation space for your new habit … slip into it. When you’re getting out of bed, just pause for a few seconds and pay attention to your breath. That’s it, just a few seconds.
That’s so easy you will barely notice the habit. Don’t try to become the world’s greatest meditator, don’t try to master the habit — just do a few seconds of it, and get on with your day.
After this becomes something you do without thinking about, try doing it for 30 seconds, then a minute. But don’t rush into this, take a week or two before you increase. It will seem ridiculously easy.
You can try the same thing for exercise — instead of going to the gym or doing a 30-minute run, try just doing a push-up when you’re about to take a break from your computer. Just one push-up. Or try doing a plank as you watch TV, just for 10 seconds.
Make it super super easy to start with.
Leveraging your phone
This one is a version of slipping into the habit … but it takes advantage of how often we check our phones.
It’s simple and obvious: put a photo with a message on your smartphone’s lockscreen. For example, put a message that says, “Breathe” on your lockscreen. Or perhaps “Get fit.”
Then, when you check your phone and notice this message, slip into your new habit. If the phone says “Breathe,” then pay attention to your breath for just a few seconds. If it says “Get fit,” then simply do a pushup or something like that.
Obviously you can’t do that every single time you look at your phone, but if you do it a few times a day, you’ll be slipping into a new habit effortlessly, and soon you’ll be on your way to a healthy habit that could change your life.