How many times have you tried to form a new habit and failed?
Whether it be getting up earlier, prospecting more, quitting smoking, exercising more or eating healthier – it would almost seem that we are destined to fail…or are we?
Research states that it can take anywhere from 7 days to 3 months to form a new habit depending on the factors at play. How difficult is the task? What is your level of motivation? How often will you engage or repeat this new behavior (habit)? The more motivated you are, the more often you will likely practice or repeat the new behavior. Seems pretty straight forward. Yet, we still fail. Why?
There are 3 phases to forming a habit. I call them the Ready Set Go Phase, The Breakdown Phase, and the Breakthrough Phase.
1) READY, SET, GO! Phase: You have attended a conference or course and walked out feeling motivated and ready to make changes. For the next few days or even few weeks, you will be inspired, energized and working.
2) BREAKDOWN Phase: As inspiration fades, and reality sets in, you will likely find yourself struggling or fighting to keep momentum. Your friend might ask you to join him/her for lunch during the time you have devoted to a work task, or you might find that you are tired of hearing No’s while prospecting for business. You will convince yourself that you just need a mental break, a day off, or a change of pace. It is during the BREAKDOWN Phase that you forget every reason why you started on this new path to begin with. You literally have memory loss. Two things will happen in this phase
- You will give up, stop what you’re doing, and vow to start again another time OR
- You will plan for a set of strategies to keep you in the game. (This is where you want to be!)
3) BREAKTHROUGH Phase – If you opted for the second option, and put strategies in place BEFORE you get to the Breakdown phase, AND you reach out and use those strategies, you will find yourself in the BREAKTHROUGH Phase. You will have pushed forth, kept your momentum going and will likely find yourself more at ease.
Creating a new habit takes hard work, commitment and an understanding of what sets us up to fail in the first place. Truth be told, good habits require consistency in commitment and repetition. Make the commitment to push past the Breakdown phase, no matter how many times you go back to it. Identify the areas where you will find challenge, and set up a plan of strategies to ensure you succeed.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”