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You Are 7 Steps Away From Making A Habit Last

You Are 7 Steps Away From Making A Habit Last

Habits are the little things we do repeatedly, often subconsciously. They end up shaping our lives. Day after day, they make us who we are. Eat healthy and you get slim, exercise and you get fit, read and you get smart, etc.

“Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Ghandi

      Building habits is arguably the most impactful skill we can acquire in life. Can you imagine that 16 million deaths could be avoided every year by simple habit change? It is hard though to break old habits and form new ones. People seem to believe that they can transform their lives by simply making a wish when comes the New Year. But 92% of these resolutions fail.[1] Could it be that modern life makes us lazy? In our on-demand society, food gets delivered to our place in 10 minutes. We have a taxi waiting at our door 30 seconds after we ask for it. Everything has to go fast. We don’t accept that certain things take time and give up easily when we face challenges.

      Let me tell you the ugly truth: forming habits does take time and it requires efforts. It’s not going to happen just by hoping for it. It’s not going to work if you are not genuinely prepared to change. And there will be obstacles on your way. You can try and reject this ugly truth. It’s up to you. You then risk to get stuck in your old ways and fail to build the life you want. New Year after New Year, you will be making the same resolutions over and over again. In 10 years from now, those who don’t change their poor eating habits will be obese. Those who fail to introduce regular exercise in their life will be unfit. And those with bad financial habits will be poor.

      As a teenager, I went through a deep crisis which left my life as a mess. I had to reprogram myself and rebuild my life habit after habit. That’s when I realized that we can become the architects of our lives. Over the years, I refined my approach to setting goals and building habits. It has been my passion for 20 years now. And it has helped me live a dense and meaningful life. Here are a few examples:

      • I have written more than a 100 songs while I’m not a particularly gifted musician.
      • I represented France in the 2015 ITU Triathlon World Championships while I am not the most athletic person.
      • I have launched a promising startup called GOALMAP while I am not very business savvy.
      • I have also gathered the biggest dream journal in the world (I’m getting close to 10,000 dreams)!

      This was all thanks to habits. When you are able to form habits, you can steer your life in the direction you want. If you are keen to try this approach for yourself, you can follow this step-by-step guide.

      1. Assess your readiness for change

      According to James O. Prochaska’s transtheoretical model of behavior change, there are 6 stages involved in changing:[2]

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      • Pre-contemplation: People at this stage do not intend to start the healthy behavior in the near future (within 6 months), and may be unaware of the need to change.
      • Contemplation: People at this stage intend to start the healthy behavior within 6 months.
      • Preparation: People at this intend to start the healthy behavior within the next 30 days.
      • Action: People at this stage have changed their behavior within the last 6 months.
      • Maintenance: People at this stage have changed their behavior more than 6 months ago.
      • Termination: The new behavior is ingrained, no risk to relapse.

      If you jump straight into the action phase while you are not yet ready for it, you are most likely to relapse. In order to progress through the stages of change, you need:

      • A growing awareness that the advantages (the “pros”) of changing outweigh the disadvantages (the “cons”).
      • Confidence that you can maintain changes in situations that tempt you to return to your old, unhealthy behavior.
      • Strategies that can help you make and maintain change. These strategies are called the “processes of change”. Different strategies work best for different stages.

      Don’t put the cart before the horse. If you are not mentally prepared to change, any effort you make will be counterproductive. If you realize that you do not intend to start a new habit right now, try and figure in which stage you are and apply the “processes of change” which are most relevant for that phase.

      If you are keen to find out more, I recommend you read Changing to Thrive by James O. Prochaska. If you are ready for change, keep reading!

      2. Have a grand vision for your life

        Make sure that the habits you decide to work on are aligned with your personal values and the long-term vision you have for life. If there is no deeper meaning in the things you do, you might find it hard to make them stick.

        Before rushing headlong, dig inside of you and get in touch with the powerful vision beyond your desire to change. If you have aspirations such as eating healthy or exercising, what is your vision beyond these goals? Maybe a vision of yourself in good health, fit, slim and happy… Take a moment to visualize the person you aspire to build.

        With this vision in mind, you can see meaning in everything you do. After all, why would you put your sneakers on and go for a run rather than watching a TV series? The sofa might be more tempting than the effort! But get back to your vision and the choice will come effortlessly. When your vision is anchored deeply, it is easy to light it up. The closer the vision is to your heart, the stronger it will be, and the more easily you will push through the obstacles. Get back to your vision, when you fail or when you succeed – it will show you the way.

        3. Start small

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          When we think about changing our life, we are tempted to change everything at once and come up with a bucket list of 20 things to work on at the same time. It’s so exciting! It rarely works though. If we try to do too much, we soon feel overwhelmed. Chances are great that we will give up.

          This doesn’t mean you have to focus on a single habit. Actually, taking action on one behavior increases the odds of taking action on a second behavior. This is called “coaction”. Start with the top 2 to 4 habits you want to build.

          Don’t set the bar too high at the beginning. When you get on a bike, you should start with an easy gear, and shift up gears as you build speed. It’s all about momentum.

          4. Make a plan

          You need to plan how you are going to weave the new behavior into your life. For a habit to stick, it has to become part of your routine. You need to turn it into some sort of automatic process. The key to building a habit is repetition. Try and build a ritual: same day, same time, same place, etc.

          Make sure you have the basic questions answered in advance: When will you do it? Where? How? With whom?

          If you want to exercise more regularly, you have to plan how this is going to happen. Which sport? Which days of the week? Will you go straight after work? Then you need to take your gear with you. Do you have all the equipment you need? If not, go get it. Do you have a friend who could go with you and become your motivation partner?

          B.J. Fogg, a psychologist and researcher at Stanford University who has studied behavior change for more than 20 years, has a great trick: attaching the new behavior to an existing one. For that, use “after”: after I wake up, I meditate for 10 minutes; after I get back from work, I do 10 push-ups; after I finish my breakfast, I take vitamins, etc.

          5. Set goals

          If your aspiration to change remains too vague, you are likely to fail. Set instead proper goals for the habits you want to build. These goals must be S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.

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          Have clear, quantified targets. Instead of “drinking more water”, set a goal to “drink at least 2 liters a day”. Instead of “playing music again”, set a goal to “play the piano 20 minutes per day”.

          Set daily goals wherever possible. If you do something every day, it becomes much easier to make it stick. Let’s imagine for instance that you want to read more. You have more chances to make it a habit with a daily goal (20 minutes) than a weekly one (2 hours).

          Read more about how to set yourself the right goals in my other article Why I Can Be the Only 8% of People Who Reach the Goal Every Single Time

          6. Track your progress

            A study of nearly 1,700 participants in a weight-loss program showed that those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records.[3] Tracking fosters self-awareness. When you understand yourself better, it becomes much easier to change.

            “That which is measured improves.” – Karl Pearson

            Track your progress in a systematic fashion, not just in your head. You can use a piece of paper, an Excel spreadsheet, an app, etc. Make it simple to update and easy to access.

            7. Analyze your progress and adjust your habits

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              Your habits are not meant to be cast in stone. We said earlier we have to start small. Then, as we gather momentum, we can add another habit, or raise the bar higher.

              On the other hand, when we go through tough times, we can momentarily revise our ambitions down and avoid hitting the wall. That’s part of the journey. You shouldn’t judge yourself. Stay flexible, shift to a lower gear and your habits will pick you up.

              With quantified targets, you can easily keep track of your progress against the goals you had set. It is then time to take a step back, draw conclusions and reset your habits. Here are a few examples:

              • Add: “I started with two habits, drinking water and going to bed early. I’m now fairly comfortable with those two. It’s time to add regular exercise to my routine.”
              • Adjust down: “Running three times a week was too ambitious. I manage to go once a week, two sometimes. I’ll change my target to twice a week instead and build up from there.”
              • Adjust up: “I have consistently hit my target of reading two hours per week. I enjoyed reading that much and learned a lot. Let’s increase the target to two and a half hours.”
              • Stop tracking: “I used to drink too much coffee some days when I hadn’t slept enough the previous night but over time I managed to ingrain a new habit. I don’t drink more than two cups a day anymore.”
              • Replace: “I liked the idea of practicing martial arts but I fail on this goal week after week. I realize that I don’t enjoy the process as much as I liked the idea. It’s time to switch to another sport.”

              Try and do such a review of your habits at least every other month. It will help you adjust your trajectory over time.

              Forget about the magic potion

                Rome wasn’t built in a day, I know it’s cliché but it’s always true. There really is no shortcut to a happy and fulfilled life. One has to be persistent, and walk day after day. It’s incredible how far we can get when we walk in the same direction without stopping, even at a gentle pace.

                Forming habits definitely requires effort, especially at the beginning as you have to overcome inertia. Please keep fighting. If you don’t fight, you run the risk of going through life without really living.

                Make this effort, focus on repetition, and day after day it will get easier. The habit of doing will replace the habit of not doing. It’s challenging to get started, but it’s also difficult to stop once you get started.

                Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

                Reference

                More by this author

                Damien Catani

                Founder at GOALMAP

                You Are 7 Steps Away From Making A Habit Last Why I Can Be the Only 8% of People Who Reach the Goal Every Single Time How I Bounced Back From a Fiasco

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                Last Updated on August 16, 2019

                10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2019

                10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2019

                The success of our day is largely dependent on the quality of our planning. Not to miss out anything in their to-dos, some people prefer to make a list of upcoming tasks in a notebook, while others have long started using digital technology solutions.

                Calendar applications are some of the main tools that are worth using to organize our life and plan your time carefully.

                Many people have switched to specific tools; however, there are still some who do not use calendars on a daily basis. They may find some applications uncomfortable to use, non-functional, or expensive.

                In this article, we are going to check out the best calendars apps to help you stay organized.

                1. Cal Calendar

                  Cal Calendar has recently appeared on the market of mobile applications (Android, iOS). It is the brainchild of the development team of Any.do that features impressive functionality and well-thought-out design.

                  The application comes with many great features, including support for Exchange and Google Calendar, widgets, voice recording, and many more.

                  Cal Calendar has direct integration with Any.Do To-Do List, which gives you a unique tandem of two applications.

                  Apart from its extended functionality, Cal Calendar is easy to use. The creation of events is very simple and fast.

                  What is more, depending on the name of the event, the application automatically adds contacts and geolocation data to the entry description. You can even import your lists and entries from Any.do.

                  Cal Calendar is a great option for any type of user. It is very convenient and doesn’t overcomplicate the mode of display.

                  Another good thing is that this tool is available for free, so you can use it without spending a dime for the software.

                  Available for iOS and Android

                  2. Google Calendar

                    Google Calendar is the official calendar for Android devices that has been tested out by many users around the globe. If you are right now trying to get away from it, consider changing your mind.

                    Since this application is installed on most Android devices by default, many users think that there is nothing special in this program. They are wrong.

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                    Google has been updating its calendar for quite a few years, and now it comes in Material Design with advanced event features, direct integration into other Google services (for example, supports reminders and Google Now), and comes with Exchange support.

                    The program is super easy and will not cost a dime for you. It is a good thing, right?

                    Available for iOS and Android

                    3. Jorte Calendar

                      Jorte Calendar is one of the most popular calendar applications in the Google Play store.

                      The program features a wide range of configuration options, with many design alternatives. You can adjust display mode to your needs and view calendar entries sorted by month, week, or day (by hours). It is convenient for quickly picking the desired date, using task bars, and setting reminders.

                      Apart from its ordinary information storing function, this application can be a special cloud service, Jorte Cloud, allowing you to synchronize calendars, schedules, and task lists on multiple devices. The application also supports data importing from Google Calendar.

                      For those paying attention to the program design, there is also Jorte Store, where you can buy styles and icons to personalize the calendar. This feature makes Jorte is one of the brightest calendar applications.

                      A basic version of the app is free of charge, so if you do not want to spend money on a calendar application, it is a good option.

                      Available for iOS and Android

                      4. Business Calendar

                        Business Calendar is geared towards people who use their calendar for work purposes and business task planning. It offers different modes with wide configuration capabilities.

                        The application gives a default view mode by months, and events can be marked in different colors. Display modes/ sorting can be adjusted to your needs (by month, day, year, or events).

                        You can also set a multi-day viewing mode to see how things look for the next few days. Scrolling up and down moves you by month, and if you check a few days, they will be shown in a more detailed form.

                        The day display mode offers hourly scheduling, and the schedule mode provides a detailed schedule for a single event.

                        Business Calendar is a great tool for planning/ scheduling cases, tasks, and events. There is a support for recurring events, which can be set up in just a few clicks.

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                        Having purchased software, you can use it to import and export other calendars, delete, copy, or move several events at the same time.

                        Android Business Calendar application may seem somewhat chaotic, but it works fine and is easy to work with if you play with it for a while.

                        A full version of the application is available for $4.99, but you can also find a free version for the app test drive.

                        Available for Android

                        5. aCalendar

                          aCalendar opens our collection of top 10 calendar applications available on the market today. With its appealing design, easy navigation, and great functionality, it is one of the most popular calendar apps in our list.

                          Some of extra functions include color schemes for each case type (48 colors to choose from), different types of demonstrations, different widgets, moon phases, and much more.

                          Taking into account it functionality, aCalendar is a reliable calendar application that has an easy-to-navigate interface with three display options. Scrolling from side to side allows you to switch between the display modes of the month, week and day.

                          When scrolling down and up, you are moving through the calendar at intervals in accordance with the selected display mode.

                          Apart from its time planning feature, aCalendar synchronizes photos from contact lists or social networks to remind you about birthdays, anniversaries, or any other special dates.

                          The program also supports data transfer through NFC and full-screen widgets, which eases your work with any data.

                          The program is available for free, but you can also get even more features if you buy the extended version of software for $4.99.

                          Available for Android

                          6. DigiCal Calendar

                            DigiCal Calendar is very similar to Cal Calendar in the fact that the application focuses on design more than on its functionality. However, this doesn’t mean that the application doesn’t serve the purpose.

                            With this calendar application, you can synchronize all your calendars and view them in different ways.

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                            Along with the basic functions, this program comes with support for Google Calendar, Outlook, and includes some unique and interesting features. You can match keywords to the image or set up a dark theme.

                            The app can even show you the weather forecast for three days. There are many other features that deserve the attention of people who really like to use calendar applications.

                            Available for Android

                            7. SolCalendar

                              SolCalendar can be called a universal application. It claims to be an all-in-one digital solution having a basic calendar functionality combined with some other advanced features, such as weather forecast for a specific day.

                              The application supports Google Calendar, as well as tasks, widgets, lunar calendar and even Foursquare.

                              Those searching for a calendar application to cover just everything in its functionality, SolCalendar is a program to consider. There are a lot of interesting things in this application; the program does an excellent job working in “all-in-one” mode.

                              Test SolCalendar – the application is available for free. You can test it out without purchasing the service.

                              Available for Android

                              8. Calendar

                                Calendar is a relatively new app. It works as a web app and for both iOS and Android devices. It is an intelligent app that learns your contacts, schedule and tasks. It also helps you schedule and arrange meetings according to your available time slots.

                                A good thing about Calendar is that it allows you to sync up with other calendars you use such as Apple Calendar and Google Calendar. And so you can manage all the calendars you have in one place.

                                Calendar also gives you analytics of your meetings, giving you a clear picture on how you can improve your time management.

                                Available for Desktop, iOS and Android

                                9. Today Calendar

                                  Today Calendar is one of the most hip and edgy calendars in our list. The solution was one of the first ones that really embraced Material Design and remains one of the few that adhere to the neat style.

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                                  The calendar application offers bold colors, simple controls, and great functionality. This is not as heavy an application as many others; it will not eat all the memory of your device.

                                  If you are not searching for something complicated and over-functional, Today Calendar is what you need. You can always test the application before paying for it – the program is available for free.

                                  Available for Android

                                  10. Calendar Widget: Month

                                    Sometimes people do not need a heap of calendar applications. They would prefer to have one efficient calendar widget.

                                    Calendar Widget: Month perfectly fills this niche and meets all the needs of a modern user. It has some features of an ordinary calendar, but the real great thing about this software is that it has 80 or more themes in its library.

                                    The design of the application is great; the themes are perfectly tuned. There are options for almost any theme of your smartphone. The only drawback is the fact that the widget memory is not too large, and you should be ready for it.

                                    This simple calendar widget was created in the image and semblance of widgets from Yahoo. The widget window displays one calendar month with the ability to go to the previous and move to the next one.

                                    If you need a simple and affordable calendar to plan your tasks and affairs for one month, this widget is ideal for you. Calendar Widget: Month is so simple that it does not even have Google Calendar support.

                                    At the moment, it does not have the function of connecting any third-party calendars and services. Developers allow the possibility of introducing support for Google service as an addition to the widget, if users request to have this opportunity.

                                    Available for Android

                                    Our Verdict

                                    Searching for the right application to manage your various calendars and plan your busy day can sometimes turn into a streak of obstacles.

                                    Most of us need flexible applications that can be easily used to manage our tough schedule. The application should have all necessary time planning functions and be intuitive.

                                    Stylish design and limitless compatibility also matter. It is not always easy to find such a program.

                                    The above digital calendar solutions fall under the category “worth” of being used. They are modern, multifunctional, easy, and easy. Pick the one you like!

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                                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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