Hey it’s Taylor, the founder and designer of the Make Yourself Proud and Dear Self journal.
I created these journals to support women improving themselves in a fun and interactive way because I knew the struggle firsthand of wanting to get better but always getting bored . While these journals are fun and support living a healthier and more productive life, they are not going to magically make you do them. That requires some effort on your end. Healthline says that it takes 18 to 254 days to form a habit and during that period we all know a lot of life can happen that will make it hard to be disciplined. I am often asked for tips and secrets on using the journals or how to stay consistent with the habit of journaling, so I decided to share realistic habit building tips from a girl who is consistently inconsistent.
Step 1: Define Your Habit
If you are anything like me, you wanted to start a habit yesterday and wish that you could actually do it. The first step in creating a habit is defining the habit you want to start and stick with. Be sure to define the goals of this habit and what success looks like whether that is doing it each day or obtaining a certain lifestyle. For example, you want to form the habit of working out each day and success looks like choosing to workout rather than to make excuses. Or forming the habit of writing in your journal and success looks like completing your journal cover to cover without skipping a check-in. WRITE this goal down and where you are starting so you can compare it to your ending. I like to use a calendar or habit tracker to support my journey.
Here is an example of a habit tracker:
I just use a normal desk calendar (like literally the ones you can get anywhere):
Step 2: Create a Routine
Starting the habit is the hardest part and there are so many hacks and tips that I could provide but my biggest one is to figure out a way to include it in your current routine. For example, you want to add journaling to your day? Put the journal next to your bed so it is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night. Another way to look at it would be habit stacking; defined by James Clear as “identify[ing] a current habit you already do each day and then stack[ing] your new behavior on top.” An example of this if you want to drink more water might be every time you take a break to look at your phone, drink a sip of water; or after eating anything, drink a whole glass of water. You are stacking your new habit on a task that you do without thinking so it then becomes part of that unconscious effort.
Step 3: Track Your Progress
I am honestly the most inconsistent person who fails at 99% of the habits I try to form so therefore, I am constantly restarting or changing up my goals to form habits. I understand the struggle of getting to this point and actually finding something that works. Everything above is a “no duh” moment but how the heck do you really put it into practice? That is this step. Track it each day whether that is creating a calendar event in your phone to remind you, using an app to record workouts, or physically writing it out. Two different ways I have found success when building and forming habits are putting reminders in my phone and habit tracking on paper. Let’s start with habit tracking on paper. You can use just a regular desk calendar or you could get this downloadable cute habit tracker. When you see your progress and track your habits, you are more likely to complete them each day. No one wants to be failing in public (social media is called a highlight reel for a reason). Seeing when you completed a habit will help you continue to incorporate this new behavior in your day and help you keep the habit for life.
When I am just starting a habit, I use a reminder on my phone. We are all connected to our phones so getting a reminder when I am most likely to do the habit helps me to stay consistent. For example, I get a notification at 7:30am to journal in the morning and then another at 8pm to journal at night. I am most likely at home during these times, and if I am not, I definitely look at my calendar to check what I was doing for the day and already journal-ed or will when I get home. And this is going to get crazy but I needed to do it because I know myself--I set MULTIPLE reminders. Do it. If you need to remind yourself many times, then do it. I set about three all 25 min apart so I would get annoyed and do it. With something simple like drinking water though, I only need one reminder but repeat it throughout the day.
You know yourself...find what you know will make you do something. This is where your effort comes in. You have to do it. You have to set yourself up and then follow through. Make it as easy for you to complete the task and do it. I’ve seen people setting up their entire gym bag the night before so they are more inclined to go to the gym, or only buying healthy food so that you eat healthier. No matter how silly or ridiculous, find a routine that helps you stick to your habits.
Step 4: Celebrate Yourself
Celebrate yourself. When you hit a small goal, recognize it. At the end of the week, review your progress and adjust. Starting a habit is hard. Keeping a habit is even harder. Don’t discount your progress. Yes, even hitting the goal for one week is a reason to celebrate--take yourself out or get that piece of clothing you’ve been eyeing. You are absolutely incredible and you should recognize that.
Extra Credit: Motivation
If you need a little motivation, find Youtube videos (here’s a playlist I use) that help to motivate you to become the type of human that you want to be. There are so many videos out there that help to motivate, inspire or put into perspective the type of life you want to live. There are so many tools that can help you to reach your goals. If you are serious, do the work because self-improvement doesn’t just fall into your lap.
Reach out if you need more help or other tips