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Forming A New Habit? Pick The Right Strategy
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Forming A New Habit? Pick the Right Strategy

Have you ever tried forming a new habit and then failed? Most of us have. Many people make resolutions or set goals on the 31st December each year with the intention of making a positive change in their lives only to have given up in the first or second week of January. Perhaps you recognise that scenario. It’s easy to dismiss New Year resolutions by saying that people probably weren’t that serious in the first place or they didn’t set realistic goals, but this isn’t always the case. The fact is that forming a new habit can be very challenging even when it’s something that you’re motivated to do.

I enjoy writing and I do it as part of my work as an NLP coach, writing about self-esteem , confidence issues and careers. I’m also a communications and language development trainer and consultant so I write about intercultural communication in business and education. When I’m not thinking specifically about my work I write on topics that particularly interest me such as fashion, mental health issues, dogs and politics. When I started writing, I did it in an ad hoc manner and wrote when I felt like it, but as it’s become a more important part of my life I’ve been aware how important it is to try and establish some good writing habits. Unfortunately I haven’t.

Now I’m not saying I don’t have my good days – I do, but I’m not consistent. Sometimes I can dash off an article in 30 minutes and spend a further 15 minutes correcting it, and then at other times I will spend more hours than I care to mention on a single article. Now I’ve read all sorts of suggestions about the most efficient way of writing and I have tried them. One well known one is to decide on a topic and write outlines for three related articles. Once the planning is done, they should be very easy to write. Have I tried it? Yes I have. Have I done it regularly? No I haven’t. But why not?

And that’s the key question. I know I need to save time. I know I want to work more efficiently. I’ve tried it and I know it works and yet there is something missing. I find it almost impossible to establish it as a habit. I manage for a few days and then something happens and I veer off track and go back to my old ways of writing mostly when I feel like it.

So what’s the solution? Well I’ve decided that writing outlines for three articles at once isn’t the right strategy for me. I could make it work sometimes, but if I’m completely honest it’s not something I want to do regularly and that’s why it’s never going to become a habit for me. However, I have tried another writing strategy that I read from someone’s blog. It suggested that anyone who wrote regularly should write the beginning of their next article or blog last thing at night making it easy to pick it up the next day. I've been doing this for nearly four weeks and found it to be very successful. I guess you could say I have formed a new habit.

So what have I learnt in trying to form a new habit? Well I’ve been reminded that I have to be honest with myself, and just because I think something is a good idea and it works for someone else, it won’t necessarily be the right fit for me. If I’m going to be successful in forming any new habit, I have to be committed to doing so, decide how I’m going to do it and refine as appropriate, until I have established a habit that works for me.

Street Talk

very good article... I had long ago read somewhere, that if one really wants to do something, he/she should keep at it continuously for four weeks, then our brain starts treating it as one of our habits... then your brain is wired to do that activity and when your brain is wired to do it, the person naturally does it.... I had practiced this, and it really really worked... :)

  about 1 decade ago

Thanks for taking the time to comment. Glad you enjoyed it. Interesting to hear that the 4 weeks rule for adopting a new habit worked for you. It clearly does for some. I have a feeling that 4 weeks though, isn't enough for everyone.

  about 1 decade ago
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