If you are like most people, you would love to develop good habits that stick with you for your life time.
For example, reduce the time you watch TV, run (or exercise) every day, spend enough time with your kids, eat healthy food, learn something new in Linux every day, read books regularly, etc.
Building good habits takes time. If you practice a good habit for 30 days straight, you are most likely to follow it for a long time.
30 Day Habit Building Strategy
Over the years, I’ve build several good habits using the 30 day habit building strategy. It is very simple. Here is how it works for me.
- I created a “good habit list” document (in google docs), that contains all the good habits I want to build.
- On the 1st of every month, I pick one habit from that list, and do it every day for 30 days.
- At the end of the month, I evaluate how I did on that particular habit in the past 30 days.
- If that habit is something I enjoyed doing, and improved my life, I follow it. I might make some adjustment to the habit based on what I’ve learned during the 30 days. For example, I might not follow this newly learned habit every day, but might do it once a week.
- If that habit is something that I didn’t enjoy doing it, or didn’t improve my life, I’ll drop the habit and not follow it. This rarely happens, as most of the habits that I add to my good habit list document is something I really want to build and follow it for the rest of my life. Occasionally, I try out something for fun for 30 days, even when I know that I would not follow it after the 30 day period.
Few Good Habits I developed Using this Method
Following are few good habits I developed using the 30 day strategy.
- Stopped watching TV. Not long ago, I was giving the typical “I don’t have enough time” excuse for not completing any of my personal projects. At that time, I was watching all sitcoms, reality shows (including dog eat dog), and sports (including curling) on TV. As part of the 30 day habit building, I stopped watching TV for 30 days, and I completed all my pending personal projects during that time, and still had enough free time to mess around with additional projects. I don’t watch TV anymore, and I’m enjoying life more now than before when I used to waste several hours a day sitting in front of the TV.
- Playing tennis regularly.
- Reading books regularly. I keep one technical book and one non-technical book in my reading queue all the time.
- Checking personal email only once per day.
- Cleaning up the living room and putting my daughter’s toys in the appropriate place before going to bed.
- Getting things done using GTD framework.
Keep the following in your mind when you plan to build a new good habit.
- In your “good habit list” document, don’t list very vague things. “Read a book for 15 minutes before going to bed” is better than “Read daily”.
- Be very realistic on the habit you want to develop. “Run every day for 1 hour” probably is not realistic, if you’ve never ran before. May be you might want to start with “Jog every day for 15 minutes in the evening”.
- Don’t confuse habits with goals. Once a goal is achieved, there isn’t much to do on it, on an on-going basis. On the other hand, once you build a good habit, you want to continue doing it on an on-going basis.
- During the 30 days, if you miss a day, don’t be hard on yourself, just continue the habit from the next day.
- Once you pick a habit to try out for 30 days, tell your family and friends about it. Ask them to check with you regularly to make sure you are doing it.
- When you start building a new habit, plan it out properly. If you are planning to run every day, decide when you want to run, how long you want to run, and block your calendar accordingly for that time for 30 days.
- Develop good habits that you enjoy doing it. If there is only one thing you should remember, this is it. Most people try to develop a habit, which they hate. If you hate running, don’t run. Try some other physical activity that you enjoy.
My Nov 2010 Habit
Run for 30 minutes in the evening after work.
After 30 days, I’ll keep you posted on how I did on this habit building.
What is Your Nov 2010 Habit?
Join me in this on-going 30 day habit building. For you, there is nothing to loose, but everything to gain.
Pick a good habit you would like to build this month and do it for 30 days. If you do this regularly, you might develop all the good habits that you always wanted.