So, you decided to start running again. Like last year and the year before that… and the year before that. The first day is piece of cake. You are thinking “I can do this! This isn’t at all going to be as hard as I thought.” But then after some time… all of a sudden you stop doing it.

Sounds familiar? Don’t worry. Doubt is a natural part of learning. When we are challenged, impatient or discouraged the doubt is right there by our side. And it’s our new good habits’ worst enemy. Because as soon as we give into the doubt we slip straight back into our old habits.

So, how do we go about it? How do we hold on to those awesome new habits? That is exactly what today’s post is all about.

The Challenge

Instead of letting the doubt rule your actions, try accepting it as a natural part of learning new stuff. It’s okay for it to be there. You don’t have to comply with it.

Just as the doubt can tempt you to leave good habits behind, so can your state of alertness. Our everyday lives are often filled with deadlines, to do lists and accomplishments. And no matter if these things stress you or not, they increase the state of alertness in your body. When that happens, all energy is put into problem-solving, which is why it can be hard to hold on to good habits. Even though this is actually when you need them the most.

Below is our 4-step guide for holding on to those positive habit changes.

Step 1: Think Big. Start Small.

Photo by William Stitt

Start small. Only do what you planned for in small doses e.g., if you want to start running make sure to do short runs every day rather than one long stretch once a week. It is all about making it doable and having success straight away.

Step 2: Keep an Eye out for Negative Thoughts

Photo by Evan Kirby

Beware of the negative thoughts that usually follow when you start forming a new habit. It is just your Stone-Age brain telling you that you have to look out for changes and new stuff, that could potentially be dangerous to you.*

Maybe your inner voice is telling you that this new breathing exercise, training programme or diet plan was just yet another project, that didn’t work out. Or maybe you are thinking “there is no reason to keep on doing this because I am no good at it anyway”. THIS is where it gets really tempting to give up.

But remember, thoughts are just thoughts. They don’t really matter. And more importantly, they do not control your actions. So, it is not your thoughts that make you quit, it is the emphasis you put on your thoughts.

Step 3: Enjoy Your New Habit

Photo by Fernando Brasil

Your new habit can easily become your enemy or some kind of test, you need to pass to achieve a better life. But your new habit IS your better life. It should be something you enjoy doing. Otherwise, it won’t work.

So, take full responsibility for your new habit and notice what it does to you. You don’t want your new habit to become an annoying and unachievable commitment but something that really makes you feel great. Because it is in this great feeling you will find the motivation to stick to your new habit. Of course, your motivation can change over time but the clearer it is to you, the easier it will be to keep doing what you are doing.

Step 4: Fall and Then Get Back Up

Photo by Sydney Rae

An important part of creating a positive habit change is that you fall. That you miss your training, forget it somewhere along the line and don’t stick to your new habit. Here, it is important to remember, that a fall is not the end of it. Even if a week or more passes it is never too late to get back up.

But then, when you are back on track, don’t let it be more than three days before you pick up your new habit again. And if the doubt comes crawling up on you, then make bets with friends, family or colleagues about your abilities to keep on going to make sure you don’t leave your new habit behind.

That’s it! Good luck holding onto those awesome new habits! And please, throw us your thoughts in the comments. We would love to hear how you go about sticking to your positive habit changes.

*https://www.dr.dk/levnu/psykologi/hjerne-madsen-vores-hjerne-elsker-vanens-magt (in Danish)