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    6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick

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    Not long ago, my daily life was in really bad shape. I was sleeping anywhere between 3am to 6am on average, and on the really bad days I wouldn’t sleep at all. Because I slept late, I would wake up late. Subsequently, my day would start off late, which meant I was busy “playing catch-up” and being late for my appointments. My diet was horrendous – I was eating lots of junk food and snacks at night to stay awake. It got worse month after month, and I didn’t want to continue on. I needed to revamp my lifestyle!

    I picked out 9 habits I wanted to cultivate for the next 21 days, such as: (1) Sleeping at/before 12am, (2) Waking up at 5am, (3) Reading a book or listening to a podcast at least once a day, (4) Meditating, (5) Being timely for my appointments (6) Even eating a raw food diet! #6 might be a bit of an overkill for some people, but hey – since it was just for 21 days, I thought I might as well try something different for a change.

    I’m extremely happy to report that nearly all my habits have stuck. My life has become significantly organized. I wake up early, I get to all my appointments early/on time, I get my work done, I meditate, I’m eating raw, and I sleep on time. Out of the 9 habits, 8 habits stuck, while 1 habit was let go because I realized it wasn’t something I wanted to work on for now. Compared to my previous lifestyle, this has been a total 180 degree turnaround.

    Some people might think this positive change is exclusive to me, that perhaps I have some incredible determination, persistence or discipline to pull this off. I don’t want to disappoint, but it’s not. In fact, truth be told, I consider myself a very undisciplined person. What I do have though, are 6 specific tips that have been critical in enabling my lifestyle change. These have helped my new habits stick.

    If you have been trying to cultivate new habits with little success, then you might find these very useful. These habits are not rocket science – they are easy to understand, apply and have worked tremendously for me.

    Here they are:

    1. Know the Real Reason Why Your Habit Didn’t Stick Previously

    2. Pick Habits that Reinforce Each Other

    3. Plan For Your Habits (Right down to the timings)

    4. Stay Ahead of Your Schedule

    5. Track Your Habits

    6. Engage People Around You

    Final Words

    My new habits have pretty much been integrated into my daily life now. Everything runs on auto-pilot and it feels like I’ve been doing this for a long while. My personal tips above have worked tremendously for myself, so while they may look simple and straightforward, don’t underestimate them. Try them out for yourself and let me know how your new habits are coming along for you.


    I’m Celes and I write at The Personal Excellence Blog, where I give my best advice on achieving personal excellence. If you like this article, you might enjoy reader favorites like 101 Things To Do Before You Die and Are You Sleepwalking Your Life Away?.

    View full post on Stepcase Lifehack

    Comments

    1. Jarrod @ Optimistic Journey

      04/13/2010

      Such a great list! I think one thing that happens is while we endeavor to achieve new things and make new habits, the moment we start to see success is when we stop doing what we’ve been doing to become successful. That’s where one problem comes into play in my book.Great article! Thanks for sharing!!

    2. celestine

      04/13/2010

      Adam and everyone, I’m glad you found it inspiring :D I thought habits is a category where many things written are just rehashes of each other, and thus I really wanted to write a post that brings in something new and is immediately applicable to our lives. Some lifehack.org readers have surfed over to my blog and joined my 21-day lifestyle revamp program too. I can’t express how inspiring it is for me to see all of you motivated and proactive on creating positive change in your lives. So kudos to all of you!

    3. Adam Sicinski

      04/13/2010

      Celestine, this was the most inspiring post I have read about transforming habits in a very long time.I’m a Life Coach and have been coaching people for a living for several years now. However, your post has provided me with a few new insights about transforming habits that I hadn’t considered before.Thank you for sharing these ideas and providing these great insights :)

    4. celestine

      04/13/2010

      Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments! I’m really glad this is a helpful post for you.@Mandy: Why do you want to stick around the bed more? There’s actually a reason behind that. First you might get answers like “Because I’m lazy”, “Because I just want to procrastinate”, but keep asking and new answers will come up.To everyone, I CANNOT stress enough on point 2 – Pick habits that reinforce each other. The reason why my revamp worked was *precisely because* I was changing a big number of habits at one go, of which these are interrelated. If I only picked waking up at 5am as the habit and kept working on that, I’d have been how I was for the past 6 months – trying to get up early but never getting up. I wrote more about it in my post when I first started out on my 21-day revamp program: http://celestinechua.com/blog/…..l-program/

    5. Hulbert Lee

      04/13/2010

      Hi Celestine, awesome tips on changing habits. Waking up at around 5:30 in the morning was nearly impossible for me to do. You can’t just expect to do it once and have the habit stick; you have to do it consistently until it runs on autopilot. I like how you outlined a plan for us as well as explain why it’s more effective by choosing habits that help improve other habits. Thank you!

    6. Make A New Habit Stick By Drilling Down Through The Failure Of Prior Ones | Lifehacker Australia

      04/14/2010

      [...] 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick [Stepcase Lifehack] Tagged:goalshabitsproductivitytime management [...]

    7. Phil - Less Ordinary Lliving

      04/14/2010

      Celestine – you are an inspiration. 8 new habits in 21 days. That is magnificent. I tend to try and change 1 to 2 things at once and work on those for a month or two at least. I really like the root cause analysis – it gets past excuses to the real reasons and helps a logical approach to changing habits. Good stuff – I’m posting on changing habits next week and will link to your guide too!Thanks, Phil

    8. Rebecca Leaman

      04/14/2010

      This is a terrific post, well thought-out and well articulated. The only thing I could think to add would be in the area of reinforcement – when a new habit is proving difficult to establish, it can help to look at where you’re getting your rewards. What is it about the old bad habit that is, in some way, rewarding you more strongly than the new good habit you’re trying to establish? That’s where we often shoot ourselves in the foot, effectively setting ourselves up for “punishment” (removal of a rewarding experience, without a greater reward to replace it) when we try to change a habit.

    9. RealMe42

      04/14/2010

      I liked your ideas here. I think you may have been a bit ambitious to do 9 things in 21 days but glad it is working for you. I’m trying to get 3 things accomplished in a month and having a hard time at it, at first. I am using my new blog as the forum to keep me on track and see how my progress goes. I’m trying to find the “Real Me” before I turn 42–I just turned 41. :) Each month I’m assigning new tasks to myself and this month I did just three because I feared getting too overwhelmed. As it is, I got laid off from my job the first week of this project so had to deal with other issues I didn’t expect. Isn’t that always the way?I appreciated your article. Keep up the good work! I probably need to work on choosing habits that reinforce each other. Also, I used to track my goals, with Joe’s Goals, but then I stopped. May need to start that again, now that you’ve reminded me.

    10. Head Health Nutter

      04/14/2010

      Hi Celestine, thanks so much for the inspiring post and step-by-step lifestyle revamp plan!I like how you spent so much time to carefully plan your days and watch the time you spent on activities. It’s like creating a financial budget which makes you more aware of $ coming in and out of your life.Now that you’re on auto-pilot, does this mean you don’t spend as much time planning your days? Do they just naturally unfold?

    11. gpeuhqt

      04/14/2010

      What works for me: Create an environment that makes it very difficult to deviate from your new habit. If you want to eat raw foods only, then do everything you can not to have cookable foods in your home. If they are already there you’d better throw them away. It may seem like a waste, but if you don’t throw them away you will eventually decide to cook & eat them instead, which is far worse (see also: Murphy’s law). If you want to deviate from your habit now, you have to make a big effort: actually go some place to get the cooked/cookable food. That will take more time than just opening the refrigerator, so you will have more time to make up your mind.Why don’t alarm clocks work as well as one might hope? Because it’s so easy to turn them off.Accept that your will power is not always as strong, and adjust your environment accordingly.

    12. Mandy

      04/14/2010

      I think this post will be great help for me, thanks Celestine! I’ve been saying for a long time to wake up early but still can not get rid of it, it’s not because I’m tired, it’s because I want to sleep sleep more,like stick on my bed,ehhhhhh….even though I bought a powerful clock with wheels!!!

    13. Robert Wardrup

      04/14/2010

      Thanks for that one! I’ve actually been trying to change my sleeping habits but I’m not able to for precisely the same reason as you weren’t. I’ll work on your advice :)

    14. celestine

      04/14/2010

      Thanks again Seth and Lifehack for this guest post opportunity! I hope everyone finds the tips helpful in making your habits stick. If you have any questions or comments at all, please feel free to share them here and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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