How many habits at a time?
It is almost 40 days since the new year. By now it will be evident whether we are crushing it or getting crushed 😜
Statistics show that 80-90% of new year resolutions fail. It means 8/10 people fall back in to their old life aka old habits.
As a behaviour architect I was taking enough precautions not to fall into this category. I put in the right systems and routines in place to keep me intact. I guess I over did it. Now I have an opposite problem to handle. I am totally crushed by the number of daily habits I must do everyday.
My monthly reflection showed me that I am spending almost 4 hours everyday on my daily habits 😳. That is a lot and no wonder I don't have time for anything else. Things like writing a blog, reading, sketching, eating right, journalling, walking and more. Sounds perfect as a list but keeping up with a voluminous schedule is hard work.
For example: My day yesterday was unpredictable and I could not control all aspects of my schedule. As a result, I could not finish things as planned. I almost missed writing my blog yesterday. I could not eat right as I had to eat outside and I didn't have much choices. As a result, I could not sleep well.
Outcome = Stress 😩
I was beating myself up for almost missing the schedule (and not missing). I was asking questions around how could I have planned better? how could I have used schedulers and calendars? blah...In a nutshell, I was stressed by my motivation to improve self. That sounds ridiculous isn't it?
As ridiculous as it sounds, the pain is real. The root of the problem is I have many habits to do everyday and it is becoming a chore by itself. The joy of doing it and getting that dopamine when done is gone. Now it is becoming a rut.
Today morning, I woke up with an intent to clean up my habits schedule. I want to fix it so that I bring back the joy of forming a behavior and give it time to become real in my being.
There are studies that show that one habit is formed in 21 days (drinking water). The same study showed that it takes 84 days to form another habit (push ups). There are literature that says it takes 66 days to form a habit. All the above is true and the context determines the period.
Personally I have formed habits in varying time frames. Here is my take.
Habits are personal. Depending on the life context, the motivation around a certain habits changes the acceleration. So take your time to form new behaviours in your life context. One size doesn't fit all.
Here is what works for me based on a number of habit formation experiments I have done on me and others.
Two daily routines for two months.
I am not talking about the super tiny habits like flossing tooth or one push here. Even those you can't have more than three as Dr.Fogg puts it. I am talking about routines that are keystone to your life.
At the max we only need about 10-12 behaviours this life time. It may take upto 24 months to form them and I guess it is totally worth given that they are lifetime behaviours.
For example: I picked writing and sketching as 1BS decisions. In a life context they are important for my creative self. So there is enough motivation to focus. These routines are new behaviors. They take certain mindfulness, skill and intent to become a part of my life.
Everything else I am stripping it down from the MUST DO list for now and moving into NICE TO DO everyday list. This way I will only beat myself up for MUST DO list and be nice to me for doing/missing the nice to do list.
It just felt really lighter inside with that new design. I will keep you posted around how things are going.
🥂 to design and re-design!