What If You Want to Build More Than One Habit at a Time?
The most conventional advice for habit building is to build one habit at a time. This advice is generally the best advice to follow; however, it comes with a caveat.
Most people have many habits they want to change at once, so picking one to focus on can create a dilemma. Even if you can select the most important one, it feels discouraging to sacrifice your second most important habit. Even though your second most important habit is less urgent than the most important one, it’s still something you want to implement urgently, and it doesn’t feel good to be putting it off.
The primary principle for building habits should be to build one habit at a time. Focusing on one at a time will increase your chances of making it stick. When you try to implement multiple habits at once, it’s challenging to maintain them in the long run. There will be days when taking on numerous habits feels too overwhelming, and this is usually the point where people fall off track. However, there is a strategy you can use to begin working on more than one simultaneously.
The purpose of building one habit at a time is to reduce the risk of falling off track. If you try to develop too many habits at a time, you end up falling off track, and you will eventually backslide on all of them. On the other hand, adopting just one habit has some disadvantages too. It can discourage you if you have to forgo other important habits.
When you build new habits, it’s critical that you’re generating momentum. Each day you can stick with a habit; you should feel pleased with your progress; this fuels you to keep taking the same action consistently to cement the habit. But if you’re feeling like you’re missing out on starting other habits, this will hinder your momentum.
The momentum would be, for example, feeling good about yourself every time you go to the gym. However, let’s say you wanted to improve your nutrition in addition to your gym habit. If you just focus on the gym but neglect your nutrition, you might not get the desired momentum from going to the gym alone because getting your nutrition handled is very important to you.
The solution is to pick one habit to stick to and then actively improve other aspects of your life without making them a habit. If you decide that going to the gym will be your habit, you can simultaneously make an effort to eat healthily throughout your week without committing to doing it every day.
Then, when you feel stressed or overwhelmed, you don’t have 3 or 4 habits that you need to stick to. You can drop all the other habits and focus on the one habit you’ve committed to.
If you take this flexible approach, then you’ll find that your behaviours start to accumulate naturally. It works like a snowball effect, where the momentum gained from one habit will encourage you to start taking positive actions in other areas of your life. The most significant benefit of this flexible approach is that at any time, you can increase or decrease the number of things you want to change based on how you’re feeling.
When things get too much, you can reduce the number of changes you’re making without feeling like you’re backsliding because you haven’t made it a habit.
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