I don’t remember when I learned to brush my teeth. I imagine it was somewhere around when I learned to stand up by myself. I may not have done it every day without some help and coaxing from mom, yet, at some point brushing my teeth when I wake up and before I go to sleep became a habit. Another habit I developed as an adult is exercising. If I don’t exercise in the morning before I get my workday started, I feel like I haven’t brushed my teeth. I think it was Jane Fonda that originally motivated me and somehow it became a critical part of my life.
I now find it super difficult to create a new habit. I’ve read the books: Atomic Habits, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Power of Habit. I have no problem reading about creating a habit – I could even argue that I’ve created a habit of reading about creating habits – yet creating new habits lately has left me frustrated.
I’ve tried habit stacking – adding a new habit right after one you’ve already established and even hired an accountability coach. I almost created a meditation habit – 10 times. Needless to say, 3 was not a charm!
A few months ago, I started to develop content to post on Social Media for my new business. One day I’d write an article, the next film a video. I’d spend time on Canva creating graphics. The problem was, there was no consistency in how I developed the content.
During the short period that I had an Accountability Coach, I committed to writing 250 words every weekday. The coach didn’t last long but interestingly, the writing seems to be continuing. For the past 4 weeks, I’ve written a blog post Monday through Friday.
What’s curious, is that I don’t have a set time for doing the writing. The only commitment I have is that I actually write. It doesn’t matter what time of day. The trigger is sitting at my desk. It’s typically the first thing I do when I get into my office (or to my desk) and start my work.
If I’m out of the office all day, I commit to writing when I get back. If I have a call first thing in the morning, I write after the call, if I have no meetings, writing is the first thing I do. I have developed a new habit.
How do I know it’s a habit? You know that ‘not brushing your teeth’ feeling I mentioned, it’s kind of like that. If I don’t write something, I feel like my day is unfinished.
So, what’s the secret to developing a habit that you can stick with? As I look back on how I developed this habit, here’s why I think this is working:
1. I committed to only 250 words knowing that I rarely write less than 500.
2. I kept it at 250 words even when I had consistently written more.
3. I’ve used most of my writing as content for my blog. It’s a double whammy, getting my writing done and my content done at the same time.
4. If I don’t have anything particular to write about, I do a brain dump and give myself permission to throw away anything that doesn’t serve my business.
5. I didn’t commit to writing at any specific time. Only that I would do it at some point in the day.
6. If I get distracted, I come back to my writing before my workday ends.
7. And finally, I’ve told a few people (and now a few more) about my commitment to myself. I may disappoint myself, but I won’t disappoint you!
They say a habit is only a habit after somewhere between 21 and 365 days. Check-in with me next year at this time and see if I’m still writing. What habit will you commit to creating?