If you’ve been trying to build certain habits this year, but have run out of steam, then I want to share a tool I’ve been using to regain momentum when it is inevitably lost during the ebb and flow of weeks and months.
At the start of the year, I wrote out a list of the habits that I wanted to work on to improve their consistency and ultimately have them taking place effortlessly. The list includes the usual suspects of getting to sleep and waking up on time, drinking enough water and moving my body. But as with anything, there are good weeks and bad weeks. Sometimes, bad weeks can become a couple of bad weeks and when this happens, you should take action.
I decided to write out a ‘habit rebound plan‘ as a go-to document to pull up when I feel momentum has been lost. Capturing a step-by-step plan gives me a clear process to follow on days when I might not have the clarity of thought to
Accept that momentum is lost
It’s done. There’s nothing you can do about it and so there’s no point in beating yourself up. You’ve probably dropped the ball on some of the things you’ve wanted to build into a habit this year, but it doesn’t really matter because you’re about to kickstart some momentum. Move on. The best way to get started is to pretend that you never stopped.
Reaffirm your habits
Where is your list of habit goals? Maybe you wrote them in a physical journal or in a note-taking app on your phone. Wherever they are, keep them bookmarked. I keep mine on a page in Roam and then bookmark it in my sidebar. Take some time each week to read back over them and check your progress.
Go extreme with scheduling
If you’ve read the brilliant Atomic Habits by James Clear, you’ll be familiar with his advice around scheduling and habit-stacking. I can’t recommend this idea highly enough. Firstly, add your desired habits and behaviours to your calendar – actually schedule time for them. It’s likely that you won’t always want to have ‘DRINK WATER’ on your calendar every hour for the rest of your life, but it can be useful to do that for a period of time to help recapture momentum on your goal to ‘DRINK MORE WATER IN 2021’ and turn it into a habit through repetition.
Alternatively, you can ‘stack’ your desired habit with something you’re already doing successfully. For example, you already brush your teeth each morning so make a point of glugging back a glass of water after you’re done. You stack together the reliable habit (brushing teeth) with the less reliable desired habit (drinking more water). Magic.
Check your environment
Sometimes the key to succeeding in getting out of bed is having your alarm clock just out of reach, forcing you to get out of bed to switch it off. Or leaving your workout clothes in your eye line so they’re one of the first things you see when you get up. Your environment is a huge factor in enabling the building and maintaining of good habits.
That said, I’ve found the effectiveness of changes to your environment can also eventually wane, so I’ve tried to keep things fresh by alternating. For example, when I couldn’t wake up and get out of bed early enough, I identified that this was because I had my phone too close to my bed. The result was not only that I would snooze my phone alarm, but also that I would waste time looking at my phone before getting up. I changed this by keeping my phone out of my room and switching to an alarm clock, but after a while, the alarm clock became a bit samey so now I alternate between using a radio alarm and my iPad (which I’m less likely to aimlessly scroll on) to wake up.
Go and do it
In the end, you just have the get a grip. That’s what I tell myself at the end of my ‘habit rebound plan’. Use your habit list, use your calendar, use your to-do list and get going again.
How do you revive your habits after a bad week (or month, or year!)?
Let me know in the comment section.
- James Clear: How To Start Habits That Actually Stick
- This is a great summary of the basics for the habit king
- Habit Stacking: 17 Small Productivity Habits
- This is a very bookmarkable list of habits to come back to. They are all very simple points but it’s good practice to read through them from time to time.