1. Measure yourself
The best way to know that you’re improving is by being able to measure it.
2. Break down into smaller parts
When you break your goals down into their smaller parts, they become more easily achievable.
3. Start with a small habit
Basically here, the theory goes, do something easy to start off with. If your main goal is to floss everyday then start by flossing one tooth every day and work your way up. It’s all about habit formation and if it’s easy to do you’ll be more likely to stick to it until it becomes a habit.
4. Make it so easy you can’t say no
Again with the previous point, start off with something simple so you won’t make excuses. If it’s easy, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it then and there.
5. Start small and gradually improve
Initially start with the easy task but as you find it easier to do without thinking, add to it so you start working toward your goal.
6. When you slip get back on track quickly
The faster you get back on track the less momentum you will lose. The longer you avoid the new habit the harder it’ll be to get back into the habit and you may even have to start from scratch again. Don’t see a set back as a complete failure, merely a slip up and an opportunity for you to learn from it.
7. See how and why you lose control
When you slip up, look at what caused it. Try figure out why or how so you can adjust your routine or come up with contingencies to avoid a slip up in future.
8. Be patient and stick to a pace you can sustain
Don’t overdo it or you will feel overwhelmed. Keep it easy enough that you barely have to think about it and increase gradually. If it feels like a chore, it’ll become a chore and soon you will slip up more and more because you’re making it difficult to form a habit.
9. Begin each day with a ritual
Rituals set yourself up for completing your habit. If you put your gym clothes on when you get home from work, you’re more likely to continue on to the gym to work out. Putting on your bike helmet sets you up to go for a cycle. Rituals provide a mindless way to initiate your behaviour. When you master the ability to mindlessly initiate the tasks that are important to you, it's not necessary to rely on motivation and willpower to make them happen.
10. Motivation comes after starting a new behaviour not before
Once you’ve started something, you’re more likely to follow through to completion and feel good about it so you can say, retrospectively, that you felt motivated to do the task but only after initiating that behaviour.
11. Procrastination: The 2 Minute Rule
To avoid procrastination, follow the 2 minute rule. If it takes less than 2 minutes to complete, then do it immediately. To start a new habit, initially the action should take less than 2 minutes. This way you can apply the rule to it and do it without procrastination.
12. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion
Once you've gotten started, the habit is easier to follow through with. It’s always hardest getting to the gym but once you’re there it’s fairly easy to follow through with your workout. It’s hardest getting yourself to the bathroom but once you’re there with the floss in hand, the rest is relatively easy.
I successfully stopped biting my fingernails for about 6 weeks relatively easily using the methods described above. My only downfall was not following point 6 and I gave up on myself when I slipped up and bit my nails. I didn’t stop and evaluate what was causing me to bite my nails and to come up with a strategy to avoid it in the future, instead I gave up having decided I had failed in my attempt to break a bad habit. I would like to try this method to stop biting my fingernails again as well as using it to start new healthier habits for myself.
The ideas in this post come from jamesclear.com