Tips For Developing A New Habit

When you find a pattern of mistakes, disrupting that pattern often involves making a new, more productive habit. For example, when I ran into trouble keeping all my tasks and meetings straight, I adopted the Getting Things Done method. It took a number of weeks till the method was ingrained in my daily routine. Building a new habit isn't easy - we can slip up even if we know the habit is in our best interests. That's because building a habit - i.e., making something automatic - requires a lot of cognitive energy, something our brain actively tries to conserve. But it can be done. These tips came from a post on the Penguin Books blog by author Kelly McGonigal. She is the author of The Willpower Instinct. For more explanation, see the original post.

  1. Choose a tiny habit - changing one small thing at a time is easier than trying to make a huge change all at once. 
  2. "I will" power is stronger than "I won't" - focus on positive changes rather than negative ones.
  3. Find your "want" power - reminding yourself why you are making this change will help you maintain your enthusiasm.
  4. Expect resistance - part of you will question what you are doing; use that as fuel to continue, not as a reason to stop
  5. Forgive your mistakes - you won't be perfect, and beating yourself up will only make it easier to give up on what you are trying to do.
Remember that the journaling habit will also take time. Think of these lessons, and they may help.