It’s no secret that success takes time.
Even if you have clear goals, the best tools, and the most strategic plans, no one “makes it” overnight.
You know how it goes. You’ll need smarts, hard work, patience, grit, passion, and perseverance. Sometimes you’ll need a team, a mentor, a coach, and as some might suggest, a bit of luck to get you there.
But even with all these requirements, arguably the #1 quality guaranteed to make you succeed is consistency.
Think of business owners, athletes, professionals, scientists, creatives, actors, and activists. They make an impact, they generate results, and they reach the top of their fields because they show up day in and day out.
If setting goals is the starting point of success, then good habits help us stay on course and reach our destinations faster and more easily.
If you’re looking to develop good habits and make them stick, then you’ve come to the right place.
The Habit-10 Challenge
The Habit-10 Challenge aims to share with you simple yet powerful strategies related to habit-formation, grouped together under these three main principles:
Before I continue, download the free Habit-10 tracker from here so you can follow along →
BE IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL
Research shows that it takes an average of 66 days or around 10 weeks to develop a habit.
Think you can do it? Of course you can!
While this number varies from person to person and from habit to habit, it's important to not be bogged down by how long it takes. It's simply an approximate, after all, and as we mentioned in the beginning of this article, success takes time.
Instead, set your mind to be in it for the long haul.
DECLARE YOUR HABIT
If you refer to your Habit-10 tracker, you'll notice that on the top left part of the printable, I encourage you to first declare the habit you'd like to develop.
Writing down your habit is important because simply thinking of it doesn't inspire much commitment. And without commitment, you're bound to give up and revert to your old ways pretty quickly so consider this as proof that you're serious about taking action.
Next, the left part of the printable is divided into three sections:
01. Think BIG
Why is this habit important to you?
What benefits will you get from it?
What kind of person will you become by developing it?
Why do you need to develop it now?
When you're days or weeks in the process, your motivation might start to decline. You might even begin to procrastinate, be impatient, or be lazy.
Since obstacles are inevitable when developing new and oftentimes difficult habits, this first section will serve as your constant reminder of why you're developing this habit in the first place.
Do you want to be a healthy person? Do you want to be an expert in your field? Do you want to master a new skill? Do you want to be more grateful? Do you want to be more mindful? Do you want to live more purposefully?
By establishing your "why," you'll see that your current temporary discomfort will be worth it eventually when you've successfully become the person you most want to be by developing your habit.
This'll help you choose long-term achievement over short-term satisfaction.
Bottomline: By thinking big, you'll remember your "why" and you'll avoid sweating the small stuff.
02. Start SMALL
What is the smallest possible action you could take to get this habit going every single time?
What are ways you can make this habit easier or more enjoyable?
One of the reasons habits are so challenging to develop is because it can get overwhelming really fast.
In fact, even the simple act of thinking of the activity—exercising, reading a book, meditating, journaling, or something else—can get us to lose motivation and choose to do something else less arduous (or nothing at all!).
To combat this and to give ourselves zero excuses to fall back on, it's best to break up the habit into very small steps that are impossible to say "no" to.
In terms of exercising, just put on your workout clothes and running shoes. In terms of reading a book, go over one chapter. In terms of writing, pen a single paragraph. In terms of meditating, find a quiet place to sit and open a meditation app.
The beauty of starting small is that you'll more likely continue the activity way past the first step and ride that wave of momentum.
Next, make sure to come up with ways you can view this habit as a choice instead of a chore. For example, go running by the beach or in a park if a treadmill isn't appealing to you. Read a book you're actually interested in. Meditate in a spot with your favorite candles or some comfy cushions.
You get the picture — make your habit fun and more enjoyable!
Bottomline: By starting small, you could get started immediately and avoid making excuses.
03. Be CONSISTENT
How often will you commit to doing this habit?
How can you be more accountable?
What are this habit's trigger/s and reward/s?
Plan ahead: If ______, then I'll ______.
The more you prepare and plan, the higher the chances your habit actually sticks.
First, set a frequency. For some habits, it's actually not advisable to do it every single day and for others, it's depends on multiple factors such as your schedule, your resources, and your preferences.
In terms of exercising, for example, it's actually best to have rest days to allow your body to rest and recuperate. In terms of reading, perhaps you prefer reading for hours on end instead of twenty minutes a day, cutting the book's flow and storyline. For those of you who meditate, maybe you could choose to do it on weekdays to start.
Second, come up with ways you could put more skin in the game. Maybe you could invite a friend to check up on you on a weekly basis or you could share your habit within a support group to increase accountability. Perhaps you could come up with consequences to avoid missing a day or schedule the activity in your calendar.
Next, consider the three steps that make up a habit, known as the habit loop. The cue refers to whatever triggers the activity. The routine is the habit itself. And the reward is what you feel, see, achieve, or get immediately after doing the habit.
By familiarizing yourself with your habit's cue, routine, and reward, you could tweak the activity by noticing the trigger, reinforcing the reward, and if it's a bad habit, reshape or replace it with another one.
Lastly, to be consistent means continuing to do the habit in spite of obstacles. Plan ahead by listing the challenges you might face in the form of "If/then" statements.
If you're developing the habit of exercising, here are some examples:
If it's raining outside, I'll exercise at home by doing strength training instead of jogging.
If I get bored with my usual exercise routine, I'll replace it with yoga.
If I need to leave work later than usual, I'll make sure to go to the gym early in the morning instead.
Bottomline: By coming up with ways to be consistent, you're preparing yourself for possible setbacks and setting yourself up for success in spite of obstacles.
time to track your habit
Now that you've established your why and planned ahead, it's now time to use the habit tracker.
In the printable I provided, you have rows of circles that add up to 10 weeks. For each day that you successfully do or complete your habit, color the circle in, place a check mark in it, or cross it out.
The purpose of using a tracker is to take note of your progress and of course, help you maintain your motivation to keep going. This entire challenge runs for 10 weeks, after all (shorter or longer, depending on your habit and situation).
I also suggest developing one main habit at a time but feel free to print out as many copies as you like for all the habits you intend on tracking soon or in the future.
While the Habit-10 Challenge aims to help you develop or reshape your habits, it's by no means an all-in-one solution. It's just a guide, after all, and it's still up to you to take action.
Hopefully with the strategies presented here, you've better understood how habits work, how to plan for success, and how to make sure your habits stick for the long-term.
Simply remember to think big, start small, and be consistent.
Share in the comments below: What's the #1 habit you're looking to develop? Why is this habit important to you?