Progress is a Process: Forming Habits Follow-Up

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If you thought I forgot, think again. It’s Day 21! In my post 3 weeks ago, Time to Re-Wire: Forming Habits we talked about forming new habits in our lives to upgrade ourselves. I hope you got a chance to read the 3 R’s article and put your new habit into motion. If you have, how’s it been going?

When setting goals in our lives, we usually give ourselves a timeframe to do the work so we can check back in and measure progress/results. My new habit I wanted to work to form was to be in bed by 11:00 p.m. because my goal is to get more sleep. In some cases you can be super excited to see your amazing progress, and in others, you can wind up being discouraged by the results because you expected better.

I know the same feelings can arise when trying to create a new habit. Twenty-one days may have passed and you feel no difference, or no real improvement or progress. Well, habits are essentially a skill. This means that the more you practice forming habits, the better you get at it. If you’re new to it and just starting to develop better habits, take my advice and start extremely small. The reminder, the routine, and the reward are the three pillars and the foundation of the habit-forming loop. This is literally the science behind how habits are formed. Don’t believe me? Read about it here.

If these 21 days have initiated your 180-degree change, congratulations! Me? I’m doing alright lol, I have my relapses, but James Clear says in the 3 R’s article “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior does not materially affect the habit formation process. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you mess up every now and then. Building better habits is not an all-or-nothing process.” Thank you for the affirmation, Mr. Clear! This means you should celebrate how far you have actually gone and continue pushing forward!

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Progress is a process.

Remember, whichever habit you choose to work on, don’t get discouraged if it hasn’t become automatic after 21 days. Think of this as the test trial, because as I said in my original post, a lot of concrete research says that 21 days is too short to fully form a habit anyway–but it’s a start. To get to day 400, you have to start at Day 1. Am I right or am I right?? It reminds us that habit, much like success, is NOT “one size fits all”. It’s going to be different for everybody. How long it takes to form a new habit depends on (1) the type of behavior trying to be turned into habit. I mean if you’ve been doing something for decades, 21 days might barely be a scratch on the surface right; and (2), it depends on the biggest factor: YOU. Are you really planning and working towards it?

Pick one habit to form at a time, because overcommitting can be a huge mistake and lead to you feeling discouraged. Start Small. Forget performance for now, and just focus on consistency. Keep in mind the “Three R’s,” and don’t punish yourself for setbacks. Make it fun and enjoy yourself. Everybody needs some help, and creating a support system to keep you on track and “on goal” is a major key. We all slip sometimes, so by having one or more people in your corner, maybe even attempting a new habit as well with you, you can actually increase your chances of sticking to the habit—at least in my own experience. Practice makes (almost) perfect. Keep going!

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Time to Re-Wire: Forming Habits

“We are what we repeatedly do” -Will Durant

I once heard that if you do anything consistently for 30 days it becomes a habit or automatic action in your life. Some research argues it’s actually 21 days, some argues 66 days, and some argue some other magic number, lol. All I know is that for the past 30 plus days that school has been on break, I have not thought about school, homework, or getting to class at 8:30 a.m., and I think I’ve picked up some new habits. I have been waking up late to get to work for 11: 00 a.m., watching enough tv for every student at City Tech, and spending A LOT of time on “social media lane.”

They say old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form, so I’ve been doing my own reading and research on how to master forming and breaking habits. So with that  said, the truth is I that I didn’t really form new habits because I have had school in the back of my mind this whole time. I mean I have been going to school for so long so it’s obviously a hard habit to break. I even found myself super bored some days wishing for the semester to start.

One of the articles I found that stuck out for me and actually provided realistic guidance on the forming of habits and sticking to them was The 3 R’s of Habit Change: How To Start New Habits That Actually Stick. Right in the beginning of the article, the author James Clear says “What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.” 
That makes sense!

Our lives are really just the product of ALL our habits wrapped up in one. It made me realize that there are actually many new habits I would like to form and some I want to drop. One thing that I want to point out is that a habit is not actually a “goal.” There is a big difference. For example the habit you want to form cannot be “to get all A’s this semester” or to “lose weight.” The habit is the activity that you want to take up that could promote your goal.

For example, the habit I want to form is to be in bed by 11 p.m. I am currently on a daily
9 a.m.-8 p.m. schedule, so getting my sleep is a PRIORITY and is really imperative to me being a regular sane person and not a ticking time bomb lol. What I do now is get in bed and then decide “oh hey girl, perfect time to scroll through social media or watch just one more episode” and then I wake up in the morning regretting it all.

The article talks about using “The Three R’s” to create new habits.

Reminder. Routine. Reward.

The reminder keeps you on top of the habit, the routine is the act of actually doing it, and reward is what motivates you to keep up your habit.

I’m going to use the 3 R’s by setting a REMINDER alarm to go to bed at 10:30 p.m. which will give me enough time to wrap up whatever I’m doing. Then initiate the ROUTINE by actually going to bed by 11pm and not getting on my phone. The REWARD will be evident in me feeling better, not feeling sleep deprived and having more energy, and being more productive at my internship, job, and school. This new habit will obviously 100% contribute to my GOAL of being successful without dragging myself to do so!

What habit would you like to take up to create a positive change in your life? Maybe it’s academic, maybe you want to drink water with lunch, exercise for an hour a day, stretch and meditate when you wake up; it can be anything! Definitely moving forward I’m going to try out the 3 R’s system and see how it’s going to benefit me in making the changes I want to and forming new habits that affect me positively.

I challenge you to start your new habit TODAY and together we will embark on a 21- day challenge. I choose 21 because that seems to be the universal minimum lol.

In three weeks, I’m checking in on you to see if your new habit has begun to come naturally to you. I’m so excited!!! The article I shared with you is pretty long, but I say– as pre-work to the challenge– give it a read (or a skim if that works better for you lol) and don’t forget: Reminder, Routine, Reward!!


Love, Neffi