Habit Hacks: Boost Your Success. Change Your Life.

At Mod we love helping people create lives they love to wake up to every day.  It may sound like a monumental task but we believe it's more of a daily process.  Any change in your lifestyle - even a very small one - can have a profound impact on the quality of your day-to-day life.  Lately, there's been a lot of buzz around personal gains that can be had by adding or ridding ourselves of certain regular practices: habits.

During the July ModSocial, we took some time to explore Christine Carter's suggestions for creating new habits that stick. We explored his concept of the three R's - Reminder, Routine, Reward - and used the framework to brainstorm cues, actions and positive reinforcements we could implement to introduce one new positive habit into our daily lives. It was challenging AND a lot of fun!

But contrary to popular myth, 21-days is not all that's required to completely integrate a new habit into your life.  And it's not just a matter of will power.  The actions you're taking are actually re-wiring your brain to respond differently and creating new neural connection to support your desired practices.

So, in lieu of our August meeting, we at Mod thought we'd share some additional tips for staying motivated as you strive to improve your habits and improve your life.

Have a Big "Why."  Whether you're trying to create anew habit or eliminate an old one, you must have a reason that not only motivates you to take action, but is strong enough to keep you engaged while the body works its re-wiring magic. It's easy to gloss over this step which can be a sure path to failure.  We humans don't do well with delayed rewards.  To counter your instinct for a quick fix and stay the course, take time to write down your reasons for wanting to change and read them out loud to yourself at least daily.

Large Dreams. Small Actions.  The idea of attracting what you want by mentally visualizing it is not all smoke and mirrors.  Science supports the adage that you become what you believe.  But the vision itself won't just materialize on its own. You need to break it down into small tasks that you complete daily (is anyone thinking "habits?").  These daily actions won't seem productive at all, but look back after any six month period of seemingly non-producing actions and you'll be amazed at how much closer you are to your vision.

Plan for Success. Take a look at your environment and identify ways to eliminate any temptation to dismiss the habit you're trying to nurture. For example, if you're trying to get to the gym every day, schedule it on your calendar.  Research shows that people are much more likely to keep scheduled commitments than those they just think about doing.  Also, look at the excuses you make to yourself.  If you find you don't get to your workout because you have to go too far to put on your shoes, then put your shoes next to your bed and eliminate the challenge to your new habit.  Make it as easy on yourself as possible to do the right thing.

Use the "If...Then" Principle.  It's far easier to establish a habit by adding a new task onto an already established task in your routine. It's sometimes referred to as creating a "sticky habit." The existing routine acts as a catalyst for another action. Numerous studies show that this is an effective strategy over will power. Here's how it might work: Let's say you want to read more but can't seem to have the time. What you do have, though, is a healthy habit of eating breakfast each morning before you go to work. You can use the if...then principle in making your reading stick - if I eat breakfast then I read for 10 minutes afterward.

Simplify. Simplify.  Simplify.  Every time you make a decision, you use up a little more of your daily decision energy. Too many decisions in a day can actually leave you exhausted. It's called "decision fatigue." When you consider that we each make about 35,000 decisions a day, it's not hard to understand why we crumble so quickly when faced with the difficult choice to do something that's uncomfortable for us. To boost your decision-making power, look to eliminate as many minor decisions in your day as possible. Have you ever noticed a lot of artists wear black? It's a neutral "uniform" that frees the mind to make important color decisions about their work.

Ultimately, there's no short cut to changing behavior but with the right mindset and the right strategies, you can make lasting improvements to your lifestyle.

What habit are you working on now?  What challenges and strategies can you share to help others in our community who want to improve their lives by changing a habit? Because, ultimately, we're all in this together.

Thinker. Tinker. Builder. Connector. Tammy Hart is a marketing consultant specializing in helping solopreneurs, startups and small businesses build unique messages that create meaningful customer connections.She draws on an extensive background in content marketing, public relations, publishing and painting to develop results-oriented, cost-effective marketing strategies that are doable.