Now that you have separated your goals into actionable steps and put them in your calendar, it is time to add in some reinforcement to help you succeed (please see previous posts). We all know how hard it is to start a new habit and maintain it. Sheer willpower does not work! You have probably heard the saying that it takes 21 days to change a habit. Writing down your action steps are the first step but that does not guarantee that when the time comes you will do it. I think that by leveraging your environment you can increase your consistency and create a new habit in less time.
By leveraging your environment you can reinforce the habit you want to establish. The physical aspect of leveraging the environment would be putting things in place that would serve as reminders for the action you want to take. Reminder cards on your bedroom door, signs in the bathroom, or moving furniture around to better support your new habit are all examples of ways to use the environment to help you. You can color code your calendar or create a vision board that shows you and your life with your new habits established.
You can also link a new habit to something you automatically do now. For instance if your morning routine of getting ready for school is the same each day then you could link your new habit to some part of that routine that is already automatic. For example if brushing your teeth is automatic, you could review flashcards for those two minutes. By hooking something new to something already established you increase your odds of doing it.
You can also use your family and friends to help you. By asking for them to call you at a specific time or meet you somewhere only if you have done your action helps you become accountable. Just that little added pressure of having to explain your action to someone makes you more likely to do it. That is one reason why coaching is so effective with teens. If you’d rather keep track of your progress yourself, then I recommend using a simple chart you can check off or what Darren Hardy calls a rhythm tracker. This will allow you to see how you are doing. Sometimes we give up because we missed one or two times. A rhythm tracker gives you the bigger picture. Save them so you can compare and try to increase your consistency each week.
There is also the use of technology to help you stay on track for working on your goals. Using your smartphone for alarms and reminders from your calendar or devices such as a Time Timer (clock that shows the passage of time in a more visual way) or MotivAider (vibrates like a pager but goes off as frequently as you want) can supply the external reminders you may need to establish that new habit. I know that if you take the time to think about ways you can put reminders out there, you can come up with those that will work for you – and that’s what’s most important.
Don’t try to do it on willpower alone. Put at least two of these accommodations into effect and see the impact they have. I’d love to hear about it. Please use the comment box below.