From the minute your feet hit the floor to when your head hits the pillow, your day is filled with habits.
Whether they’re good or bad, our habits run our lives, including our productivity at work.
Depending on what your habits look like, they can be the key to your new business’s success or its downfall.
For your side hustle and your overall well-being to thrive, you need to form good habits, which can be hard without a game plan.
Here are some tips for creating habits you’ll stick to, which will improve your business and your life.
How to Create New Habits
Forming new habits is just as important as breaking bad ones, and it can be equally hard.
We’ve all made a New Year’s Resolution, only to be back to our old routine a few weeks (or days) later.
In fact, a fitness tracking app, Strava, analyzed 98 million of its users’ exercise activities in recent years and found that most people quit on their resolutions by January 19.
The problem isn’t a lack of motivation or desire to succeed. To reach new goals for your business throughout the year, you need to pair your good intentions with a solid strategy for success.
Table of Contents
1. Build on Existing Habits
One way to make new habits stick is to incorporate them into your current routines. When you start to track your daily actions, you’ll realize just how many habits you have.
Blending your new habits in with old ones can make them easier to follow through on.
Have a cup of coffee every morning? Use that time to meditate, check out an entrepreneur’s blog or podcast, or review your to-do list for the day.
Watch an hour of TV in the evening? Use commercial breaks to do mundane tasks for your business which don’t require a ton of focus, like invoicing or clearing your inbox.
2. Start Small
If you try to overhaul your life and implement a long list of big habits in a day, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
It’s great to have long-term goals for yourself and your side hustle, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Most people don’t have the willpower to see major behavioral changes through immediately.
Here’s a health-related example. Say your goal is to start eating more healthy snacks. Try swapping out a cookie for an apple to get started or bringing along a water bottle to work.
When it comes to your business venture, turn your long-term ambitions into bite-sized habits you can achieve, too.
By choosing habits which don’t take a crazy amount of motivation to start, you’ll avoid burnout and be able to build on your habits.
3. Gradually Build Up
In addition to starting with small habits, you should make gradual increases to reach your goals more quickly.
Small wins add up, and they encourage you to keep pushing forward. To keep your momentum, consider breaking new habits into attainable chunks.
If you’re trying to unplug while you work, start with shutting down your devices for 20-minute reps, increasing as you go.
4. Stick with It
A 1960 book by plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz claimed habits take 21 days to form, and the world ran with it. But this regularly quoted rule isn’t true.
Research actually suggests most habits take longer than three weeks to stick. According to a study from Phillippa Lally in the European Journal of Social Psychology, habits take an average of two months to form, with some taking up to 254 days.
In other words, if you’re getting discouraged because a habit isn’t sticking at first, don’t.
Habits take time. The more times you act on a new habit, the more you solidify it in your mind.
That’s why you should perform your new habit daily. Consistency is key!
5. Get Back Up Again
When you fall off the wagon, don’t stay down. Failing to follow through on your new habit once or twice doesn’t have to derail all your progress.
Try to plan your new habits with failure in mind by listing out things which might prevent you from completing your new habit.
Are there any daily intrusions you’re bound to run into?
Think about how you can respond to those and get back on task quickly.
6. Weed Out Distractions and Temptations
Along those lines, work on eliminating as many distractions and temptations as possible, and come up with a game plan for responding to unavoidable ones.
Maybe you’re working on your new business from home on Saturdays and know your roommate will be in and out all day, or your friends or family might invite you to go out during your office hours.
Setting boundaries is key. Let them know your schedule ahead of time, put on some headphones, and stay on task.
Or maybe you’re trying to devote half an hour of undivided attention to scoping out new clients each day. Closing out other tasks, putting your phone away, and turning off the TV can keep you on track.
7. Make It Easy to Follow Through
Unfortunately, there are going to be some roadblocks in your way when you set out to form new habits.
Your goal should be to make it as easy as possible to stick to the plan anyway.
One way to do this? Picking a cue which triggers you to execute your new habit.
For instance, if you’re trying to work out every morning, set an early alarm, make plans to run with a friend, and put out your exercise clothes.
Maybe you need to start your workday with a particular task, like writing a new article for your blog.
Create a to-do with an online platform like Notion, set a reminder, and have your draft pulled up and ready to start on in the morning.
8. Use Tools to Help You Follow Through
There are dozens and dozens of platforms designed to help you reach personal and professional goals, many of which are free.
Customer relationship management apps like HubSpot CRM or a project management app like Notion, which I mentioned a minute ago, are really helpful tools for your business at large.
But there are also apps made specifically to help you form new habits.
Here are a few top picks you might want to check out:
- StickK: Designed by behavioral economists at Yale, StickK is built on a contract you sign with yourself, and it gives you the ability to bet money on your success and invite friends and family to track your progress.
- Habitica: Habitica puts a fun twist on maintaining habits, turning your life and goals into a video game with a customizable Avatar. If you’re looking for something creative and entertaining, Habitica is the way to go.
- Momentum: If you have an iOS device, you’ll love Momentum. The app lets you track weekly goals, take notes, set reminders, and export your data into Excel or Numbers.
9. Bring Other People In
You’re way more likely to stick to a habit if you have people in your corner. Find a friend, family member, or colleague to share your goals with.
Encourage them to hold you accountable, and regularly update them on your progress.
If you want to take it online, consider creating an account on Habitshare, a website/app which combines social media and habit tracking.
The app lets you set reminders, check off habits as you complete them, and share your progress in a social media feed, customizing who can see what goals.
In addition to finding an accountability partner, look for a good mentor you can confide in and learn from.
10. Reward Yourself
Write out habits you hope to incorporate and visualize yourself achieving them.
Think of the rewards which will come with accomplishing your goals and improving your habits.
If you’re trying to wake up an hour earlier to devote more time to your side venture, remind yourself of the potential this step has to transform your business.
The more you visualize yourself acting on your goal and think about the benefits, the easier your new habit will take hold.
And once you actually put your new habit into practice, treat yourself. It might take a while for you to see the tangible rewards of your efforts, so build some in for yourself along the way.
It will motivate you to keep pushing forward and reinforce the habit.
Change Your Habits and Your Life Today
Implementing good habits can truly change your life.
Whether you want to make your hours as a weekend warrior more productive or you want to improve your mental, physical, and financial health, building better habits into your processes and systems is a total gamechanger.
With the right mindset, motivation, and tools, you can transform your day-to-day life and your future by changing your habits.
What are you waiting for? Use the tips above to start integrating new habits into your routine, and share your successes along the way.