If you’re like most people, you probably made a promise to lose weight, start running, stop smoking, learn French, read more or do something similar in the way of self-improvement last January. Everyone has something they want to change about themselves, some bad habit they want to kick or a new skill they’ve been dying to learn. Every year, you decide you will start over, things will be different this time. This is your year to be the best you can be! You buy that gym membership, sign up for an evening language class, throw all your junk food in the trash and feel satisfied with your progress already. Slowly but surely, you start to slip. The good habits don’t stick as easily as the bad ones, and sheer willpower only gets you so far.
Now that June is coming to end, and the seventh month of the year is on the horizon, take a second to check in with yourself. Have you accomplished what you set out to do this year? Are you still actively making progress towards your goals? Are you lying on the couch reading this on your phone while watching “Orange is the New Black” with a pint of gelato in your lap?
Big changes don’t happen overnight. Building new habits and breaking old ones is a long process that requires a lot of discipline. If you feel like you’ve failed already, it isn’t too late. Don’t just wait until next year to give it another shot. There’s no rule that says all self-improvement must occur in the month of January. Start small and utilize the tools you have available. There are plenty of apps for your phone that have been mentioned here before that can help with efforts to get healthier.
If you’re working towards something else like learning a new language or writing a novel, use your phone’s calendar app to block off a set period of time each day that you will dedicate to this task. If you schedule it like an appointment and have a reminder alert go off, you’re more likely to sit down and do it. Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re doing something to make progress.
Create a system to keep track of your habits. This could be as simple as drawing a chart on a sheet of paper. Write down whatever you want to do every day, like floss your teeth or meditate or do 10 pushups, and mark down every time you do it. Challenge yourself to go a certain number of days without breaking the chain and come up with a way to reward yourself when you’ve been consistent with it.
Don’t think of it as something you have to do, but focus on how you’ll feel when you’ve reached your goal. Rather than being annoyed that you have to go jogging or that you can’t drink a soda today, think of how pleased you will be with yourself in a few weeks or months when your efforts have paid off. If you decide to binge Netflix rather than study your flash cards or do some yoga, you’ll feel guilty and disappointed in yourself. Netflix will always be there. Push it aside for a few minutes and be productive instead. You’ll sleep better at night knowing you accomplished something and are working towards a goal rather than rotting your brain.