Habit building is important in ensuring that we can make our lives easier by creating automatic responses. However, good habits are difficult to establish and can quickly disappear, especially if we’re just starting.
Though it is a common notion that habits take around 21 days to build, the truth is that it would take an average of 66 days for a behavior to become automatic – this is more than two months!
So when integrating a new routine, it is important to maintain consistency, which means that you will ensure that you will push yourself to continue, even if you don’t feel like it.
However, building a new habit is difficult and may not be as long-lasting as we like. Just think of the times when we tried a new routine like eating healthy, going to the gym, or practicing a new skill – only to fail after a few weeks.
So, one useful trick I learned in habit building that you can also employ is never to miss twice or two in a row.
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Never Miss Twice
Have you ever tried consistently building a new habit for a few months when suddenly life got in your way, and you lost track along with the routine you’ve been building? I know we all experienced this, especially as the new year starts and many people start with their new year’s resolutions.
Unfortunately, most of these resolutions will be dissolutions soon if we are not careful.
So, by never missing on your habit twice in a row, you are putting yourself into a better position to succeed.
I learned this lesson from James Clear, which is crucial when starting a new habit.
Remember that perfection is impossible, and it is highly probable that you will eventually miss. However, as long as you are not missing twice in a row, you can still get yourself back up – always put consistency over perfection.
This principle is applicable in many areas of life, like fitness, healthy eating, creativity, learning, and many more.
Why is not missing twice in a row important?
I’ve been using Duolingo for learning German, and they also apply a similar principle of not missing multiple days in a row.
I started on January 5, and at the end of the year, I am just on a 310-day streak. So, where did 50 days go? On missed days!
However, though I missed several times during the year, I tried to avoid missing consecutive times and kept the streak running — and it worked.
Remember that we can miss once in a while, but it is crucial to understand that we are not aiming for perfection in habit-building but consistency and the determination and discipline to show up.
Not missing twice is not only applicable to consecutive days. It can also be used for habits with intervals. For example, you like to work out three times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
Though it is important to do it consistently, thrice a week, life will always get in the way. So, if you miss your Monday schedule, make sure you don’t miss your Wednesday lift.
How to get back on track?
While it is easy to fall off track as days go by, like travels, unfortunate events, sickness, and more, it is still important to know how to get back on track.
1. Push yourself to return.
After a missed day, it is easy to rationalize that we can still put it off and do it tomorrow. However, it is important to understand that tomorrow may bring another challenge that will hinder us from continuing. Two missed days in a row will be detrimental to our habit-building.
2. Start small.
When starting a new habit, it is important to start small and achievable. Don’t suddenly jump into a new routine that is too far from your current lifestyle because you are almost bound for failure. Make the change small so that if you miss one, you can still do it the next day.
3. Make your environment favorable for your habit.
A great way to establish a habit is to ensure that your environment is optimized for what you want to do. If you miss one day, try to recreate an environment that suits your habit, so you can continue building on it.
4. Reward yourself.
According to The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, a habit loop is composed of a cue (trigger) -> routine (action) -> reward. So, if you want to get back on track after missing a day, try it again, do the action you want to build, and reward yourself.
Building a new habit is simple, but it is never easy because you can get lost in the busyness of your everyday life. However, you can do the simple trick of ensuring you never miss two in a row.
Never missing twice in your habit-building can ensure that you can stick to your plan of making an action automatic. That is also what I did for this blog. For almost three years, I never missed a single Saturday without a published post.
Remember that habit-building is all about consistency and not perfection. You can miss once in a while. Just make sure never to miss twice.
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