March 2, 2023

5 Mistakes People Make When Setting Up Habits and How to Avoid Them

If you're struggling with maintaining or creating new habits, you are not alone! Habits are a complicated affair that involve a lot of energy shifts and dynamics which we need to understand in order to properly manage starting a new practice or routine and stay consistent with it. In the episode, I am sharing everything you need to know about creating new and lasting habits, the mistakes you might be making, and how to set yourself up for success!

• [2:29] “We are not being specific enough when it comes to determining how to carry out those ideas and goals effectively “
• [5:54] Dr. Li discusses having a back-up plan for when emergencies or distractions come into play.
• [8:46] “Keep a mini record of what's actually going on so that you can reward yourself when you're actually taking the steps. Consistency is both easy and difficult at the same time…”
• [10:29] “When we get impatient with ourselves, that actually ends up killing our drive, killing our motivation, killing our streak, killing our consistency, killing our sense of ourselves.”

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Christine Li  0:01  
Welcome back to the Make Time for Success podcast. This is episode number 116. 

If you're struggling with your habits, I want you to know you are definitely not alone. And I also want to say you should not be hard on yourself. Because habits are a totally complicated affair. They involve a lot of energy shifts, and dynamics. And I believe, and I've seen that we need to understand both energy and dynamics and how to manage our energy and our Dynamics, when we are wanting to start a better new habit. Or if we want to just stay consistent with the habits that we've already established. I've got everything you need to know about habits, the mistakes you might be making, and how to set yourself up for success with your habits. In this episode, let's go listen to the episode now.

Hi, I'm Dr. Christine Li, and I'm a psychologist and a procrastination coach. I've helped 1000s of people move past procrastination and overwhelm so they can begin working to their potential. In this podcast, you're going to learn a powerful strategies for getting your mind, body and energy to work together. So that you can focus on what's really important, and accomplish the goals you want to achieve. When you start living within your full power, you're going to see how being productive can be easy, and how you can create success on demand. Welcome to the Make Time for Success podcast. 

I've come to think that all we do can be understood in the framework of habits, even the stories we tell ourselves to get ourselves through the day are structured around the habits we have, or the sets of actions that we have, that can get us through each challenge or event in our days. And because I'm all about making things easier for myself and everyone that I come into contact with, I've become pretty focused on really understanding how habits work, and how we work well, and not so well when we operate with our habits. And so today, I thought I would share with you some of the most common mistakes that I've noticed when people are setting up their habits. The first one is that we have ideas and goals and even pictures in our minds for what we would like to happen and who we would like to be. But we are not being specific enough when it comes to determining how to carry out those ideas and goals effectively. So basically, we're not being specific enough, we're not seeing these plans as truly being hours, we're not owning them. We're not seeing them as being tangible, doable activities or actions. They're more ideas. And we're saying to ourselves, oh, it would be really nice if I could, instead of really seeing the end picture. And seeing that picture as being truly ours. We also see them as being really in the distant future so far away from us in time that we feel in some ways that we don't have to act to get there on a day to day basis. And guess what happens when we take that attitude time goes by time drifts by time speeds by. And an example of not being specific enough, is I would say the idea of wanting to own your own home. This is something that's a very common desire for people. And we all know that it's a possibility for most of us in our lives. But if you've never owned a home before, all you think about is the difficulty, the paperwork, the payments, the loss of the freedom of being in a rental, the agreements that you have. But all that is not as important as really deciding that Owning a home is really possible and really going to happen for you and to you. And it's going to happen soon. When we keep our goals as distant future type of goals. We just end up failing to do the daily work that's required. So tip number one, remember to be really specific, and time based when you set up your goal. The second mistake that I see people making is not having a plan, what habits are you going to need to put in place on a daily basis or on a weekly basis to get your goal? What will need to be changed in order for your habit to really be successful? What will you do? If lo and behold you skip a day or you ignore the habit or you forget about it? You forget about it accidentally or on purpose. All of these things need to have a plan so that we can address our resistance we can address the fact that none of us are perfect And we can still stay on that plan to get to our goal. How will you cope and handle your feelings if you don't get what you want in the end, or if things move more slowly than you expect, or if things become more difficult than you were originally set up for all of these things need a plan. So one example of a good plan to have would be stating the very specific goal and a very specific intended timeframe, noting what needs to be set up for the habit to succeed, do you need a certain weather pattern do you need certain people to be there with you, et cetera, et cetera. Another part of a good plan is committing to yourself that you will be willing and able to do what it takes to see your goal through to its completion, you need to be committed to the goal full out, no doubt, really saying to yourself, This is going to happen. And the last piece of having a good plan is having a backup plan for when emergencies happen when distractions come into play. Or if you happen to lose motivation for whatever reason. The third mistake that I see people make when they are setting up habits is that they don't have a way of being consistent or they're not being consistent. It's quite easy to know what might be better for ourselves. But it's quite another matter to know how to carry out our daily actions. So that we're actually consistently working towards our habit goals. The habits are easy in concept, but they can feel more difficult when it comes to daily implementation. And I think we've all been there, we've all been in that spot where we've wanted to build muscle or build a new habit, or have a new diet or have a new work plan. And then Wednesday comes, and all of a sudden, our motivation is gone. So the good news is that consistency is something that we can absolutely train ourselves, to have and to do. And when we learn to show ourselves how to be reliable with ourselves, that one skill gets to be repeated over and over and over again, you can use it for the rest of your life. This is such a valuable skill. I cannot overstate it. It's so so so valuable. So invest your effort and your time and energy into developing this skill of being consistent. So what does it take to be consistent, I have some ideas here. first thought is that you need to have the inner belief that you are able to change yourself, and tolerate the stress that comes whenever you're wanting to make a change, you have to believe that you're strong enough to get through any sort of habit shift or action shift that you're planning for yourself, believe in yourself, really, you can do this. Another tip that I have for you for being consistent is that you need to have a plan for how to know when the action is actually taken. It has to be a binary situation, it has to be yes, it was done. Or no, I skipped it, it either happened, or it didn't that will help you to really keep yourself on track. Because you're going to look for a yes, every single day, or every other day, whatever plan you've set up for yourself. The third tip here is that you need to be committed to do the behavior, no matter what the circumstances are, if it's raining, you do it. If it's snowing, you still do it. If it's sunny, you do it totally with pleasure. And then finally, in order to be consistent, you need to have a way to track your action steps along the way. It doesn't have to be complicated. But you do want to keep a mini record of what's actually going on so that you can reward yourself when you're actually taking the steps. Consistency is both easy and difficult at the same time. But again, it's really such a habit that will bring you such value and such joy when you really lock it in. It's a way to harness the real power of your mind, your body and your energy over time. Trust me on this one. The fourth mistake that people make when setting up their habits is not tracking their progress. I just mentioned that. Tracking is important to make sure you don't lose track of where you are. And also to give yourself a reward system for seeing Oh, I did it again. I

did it again. I did it again. And this in some ways takes away the drudgery of feeling like oh this is so boring, or oh Can't I do something else. Instead, you're keeping yourself on a regular path and you're saying Oh, as time goes on, this gets easier and easier to do. So definitely take some time and effort to build a easy to use tracking system for yourself. Grab a sheet of paper, maybe even just a pen Post It note and start tracking away track one habit for the next five days and see if you can just keep up with that consistency habit alone, you will get a payoff, even in just having five hashtag marks on a small little piece of paper. The fifth mistake that I see people making is failing to be patient. It's interesting that patience has a lot to do with successful habit creation. Because when we get impatient with ourselves, that actually ends up killing our drive, killing our motivation, killing our streak, killing our consistency, killing our sense of ourselves. Because when we get frustrated, when we feel impatient, we don't see ourselves as being enough to be successful enough to reach the end destination of our end goal of our habit change. And then guess what happens, we revert to our old habits. And then that's really frustrating. That's a whole other level of frustration. So that's a little bit of an explanation of why people tend to struggle. When it comes to setting up habits again, they seem easy, we know them in our mind as being simple cue routine reward systems. But they're all these different little layers that are involved, like consistency and tracking. And seeing yourself as being a rock star that can do this, that are involved in successful habit creation. So if you find yourself struggling with paying bills, exercising a lot, drinking water, eating, right, practicing your musical instrument, whatever it is, know that you have options, know that you are no longer needing to be stuck, because I just gave you a whole bunch of ideas for how you can tweak your system, so that you can see a lot more success. You don't have to move mountains here, you just need to do the small, itty bitty habits to make sure that you're a success with your habits. The big secret here is that you have to first see yourself as the person with the new habit as a success. Before you can try to instill that habit into your life and into your schedule, you will hear me saying that tip over and over again, always love yourself. Always be kind to yourself. Always start with that kindness at your core. With whatever you do. And I promise you that is going to bring you much, much, much more success than you would see if you were starting off thinking that you're no good that you don't have what it takes. You don't have time. And you're not right for the situation. Don't do that anymore. Let's get rid of that kind of behavior. Let's call that an old habit and put it in the closet where it belongs. It's the people who try and try again who really succeed. Don't be afraid to do that. Don't be afraid to fail. Don't be afraid to experiment. Be afraid of being stuck instead. And then you'll see that time and your habits and your actions and your feelings and your thoughts will all align and you're going to get better and better and better at making time for success. Thank you so much for listening to this episode on the five mistakes that people make when setting up their habits. If you would like more assistance with your own habits, I invite you to join me inside the procrastination coach Facebook group. It's a free group. There are about 5000 people in that group right now. I would love to have you in our community there. It's really lovely. And just go to Facebook and look up procrastination coach Facebook group, and I'll see you next week when the next episode drops here on the make time for success podcast. Take care. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Make Time for Success podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard, you can subscribe to make sure you get notified of upcoming episodes. You can also visit our website for past episodes, show notes and all the resources we mentioned on the show. Feel free to connect with me over on Instagram too. You can find me there under the name procrastination coach. Send me a DM and let me know what your thoughts are about the episodes you've been listening to end let me know any topics that you might like me to talk about on the show. I'd love to hear all about how you're making time for success. We'll talk to you soon!

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