Have you ever started something with a big burst of enthusiasm, and interest only to feel burnt out and unmotivated, letting it slip away only a few weeks later? I’ve noticed this in my own life when it comes to learning something new, making a big change in my diet, trying a new exercise routine, and with other habits.
Even though there are habits that haven’t stuck, I embraced change over the last few years and as a result, I have some great daily habits. I meditate and floss daily. I write and walk almost everyday. I sleep 7-8 hours a night, and eat a vegetarian diet. All of these habits are part of my regular routine, but they happened one at a time, a little bit every day.
3 Steps to Create Lifelong Habits
Let’s use meditation as an example, although it could be anything.
1. Know the benefits
I recommend this step for almost anything you want to do in life. When you know why you want to do it, it’s more meaningful and when it feels tough, or you want to give up, you can compare your desire to give up with your desire for the benefits. How will this new habit serve you?
When I started meditating, I wanted the benefits of a calm mind, and more clarity throughout the day. More benefits were revealed as I continued and I became even more dedicated to the practice.
2. Start small (a little bit every day)
Instead of going all in and meditating for an hour a day, try 2 minutes. Sit quietly for 2 minutes every morning for 7 days. Then add one minute the next week. If you are competitive, compete to develop the practice as slowly as possible. You don’t have to double or triple your time to do it right. In fact, in the beginning, it’s more about creating the habit vs. mastering the technique. You are creating the environment to practice, one minute at a time.
I meditate 15-30 minutes a day, but I started with 2 minutes and it took me months to work up to 15 minutes. That slow, deliberate approach was powerful in shaping the habit.
3. Repeat (a little bit every day)
Once the habit is established, it’s maintained by practicing a little bit every day. If you run out of time, or you lose interest, remember the benefits and practice for 2 minutes. Even if your normal practice is 15 minutes or 2 hours, 2 minutes is enough to maintain your habit. Remind yourself that you are building and growing and notice the benefits you are experiencing. Be patient with the process and gentle with yourself. If you miss a day, come back and practice the next day.
I meditate a little bit every day, and read, write, walk, and floss a little bit every day too. Following are a few suggestions, but apply the little bit every day method to anything that you want to bring into your life.
- Declutter a little bit every day.
- Eat greens a little bit every day.
- Write poetry a little bit every day.
- Learn a new language a little bit every day.
- Start a blog a little bit every day.
- Pray a little bit every day.
- Nap a little bit every day.
In a world of immediate gratification and outrageous claims about 10 and 21 day miracle cures for everything, this approach might sound slow or boring, but it offers something those claims do not; longevity and commitment. By practicing a little bit every day, you’ll create habits that last a lifetime.
What habit will you practice a little bit today?