Have you ever, or maybe heard of, people joining the gym on January 1st and saying something along the lines of I’m starting my fitness journey now. Then a few weeks later, they fall off.
How about people that go on diets? They start it, feel great, and then about a week later their friends ask them to go out and they completely cheat on their diet.
These are all forms of good habits that tend to die out. Not because there is anything wrong with the habit, but because the dopamine is hitting the brain for a new habit, then once that dopamine hit goes away, the person loses interest in the habit.
All habits take work, dedication, and patience. In this blog post, you’ll learn how to keep habits going.
Don’t Go Head First
When you’re first starting a new habit, you don’t want to go 100%. This probably sounds strange, but it’s the truth. Let’s say you pick up the habit of working out. You don’t want to start week 1 going 6 days per week and 2 hours per day. You’ll just burn yourself out and the new habit won’t have time to grow.
The same thing goes for when you’re learning a new field in tech. Let’s say you’re working as a Systems Administrator and you want to go into DevOps. You can’t just cram 6 hours per day all of the stuff you need to break into the DevOps space. The new habit of studying for a new career transition will fail rapidly if you don’t give yourself time to adjust.
Instead of going “all in” and thinking you need to know everything in a month, spread it out across 4-6 months.
The key here isn’t to learn everything you need to learn or to work out in the gym until you can’t walk. The idea is to build the habit. Build the habit of going to the gym. Build the habit of studying for a career transition.
Build the habit and most importantly, start off slow with a new habit.
Take Off The Training Wheels
Once you’re in a habit for a few weeks to a month, kick it up a notch. Perhaps you’ve been studying different DevOps tooling like CICD or infrastructure-as-code. Maybe the first week you studied 30 minutes per day just to get yourself in the rhythm of studying. The second week, you go 40 minutes per day. In the 3rd week, you go 50 minutes per day.
The idea is that you gradually build up the new habit of studying. Before you know it, you’ll be able to study for 1 hour per day and consume the amount of data that used to take you 4 hours of studying.
Building repetition and a good habit allows you to focus solely on that habit while you’re in it.
When you’re doing something you really enjoy, think about the length of time. Let’s just say you like to “insert your hobby here” and you do it for 1 hour per day. That 1 hour can sometimes feel like you consumed hours of data. Why? Because you were in the moment and you really enjoyed what you were doing.
The same thing goes for a good habit.
Just like with anything in the world, when you start something new for the first time, it takes some time to build up momentum.
Just because you go to the gym for a few weeks doesn’t mean you’ll lose 20 pounds.
Just because you study 5 hours per day doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be a CICD expert in a week.
Stay patient with your new habit.
A new habit and building up the momentum can feel like someone is slowly ripping off a bandaid or seems like you’re watching paint dry. It can absolutely take forever.
This is a perfectly normal feeling and believe me, it can be quite annoying. However, if you stick to the new habit, I can guarantee you that you’ll see results.
Whenever you’re performing your new habit and the distractions start to come into your mind of who’s texting you or what you’re doing for the rest of the day, stop yourself and think about why you started the new hobby in the first place.
Be Around People Who Motivate You
There’s a study in psychology that essentially states “you are the average of the five people you hang out with”.
If you think about it, it’s pretty accurate. When you’re growing up, you and your friends typically do the same type of things. It’s never just a group of people hanging out and doing the exact opposite of everyone else.
You are the average of the people you hang out with.
With that being said, think about your goals.
If you’re trying to lose weight, but your friends want you to eat cheeseburgers every day with them, you might want to tell them to stop.
If you’re trying to study and make a career change, but your buddies say “screw that! Let’s grab beers”, you may want to think about if your friends care about your goals.
Think about who you’re around and who you want to be around.
Keeping Good Habits
Have you ever heard someone say “oh that’s just a habit of mine”.
ANYTHING can be a habit. Laughing at awkward jokes. Smiling at everyone. Checking to make sure the door is locked before bed 3 times because that’s just “the proper amount of times”.
Habits are a funny thing – both good AND bad habits can be easily created.
Let’s think about a usual habit.
When you walk into a dark room, what’s the first thing you do? Typically you’ll turn on the light. You don’t have to spend too much cognitive load on this task. You just know that you need to see in the darkroom, so you turn the light on.
Let’s think about a bad habit.
You typically drive home the same way every day and one day you stop for a sugary drink at Starbucks. Then the next day you think “hm, I want that drink again”. Before you know it, you’re stopping and buying that surgery drink every day.
Those are habits, and anything in the world can be turned into a habit.
Of course, you don’t want to have bad habits. We all have them, but the idea is to get rid of them (which is another topic entirely, but you get the point).
Just like stopping for that surgery drink was so easy to turn into a habit, studying can be turned into a habit too.