Toggl blog

It has happened to all of us: you’ve decided that it’s time for a change and feel excited about it. You can already picture how you’ll feel once you’ve turned your life around, you can almost touch it. Then, suddenly time has passed and you find yourself still in the same old rut.

If this sounds like you, then perhaps it’s time to improve your strategies.

We are all creatures of habit. Since our actions are usually triggered by certain cues, a good opportunity for a successful transformation is to completely uproot yourself from your surroundings in order to eliminate temptations. This can be as simple as taking a different route to work in order to avoid that doughnut shop, or as extravagant as taking an extended holiday in order to discover the more active side of yourself. If you’re in an unfamiliar situation, you’ll have no choice but to sharpen your senses and commit yourself to the decisions you make. In a comfortable environment, though, it’s easy to give in – we often do things that we’re used to without even thinking about them.

For those of us that don’t have this kind of luxury, there are a few simple things to keep in mind the next time you wish to succeed with changing your habits in familiar surroundings.

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First, give it time. A habit takes about 3-4 weeks to form, and during this time it is crucial that you stick with it, no matter what. Remember that if you slip up once, it’s much easier next time, and soon after that you’ll be back where you started, wondering where exactly you took that wrong turn. It’s also a good idea to keep yourself accountable, be it by keeping someone close to you up to date on your progress or implementing a self-accountability system.

It is also a good idea to chop up that imposing goal into smaller, bite-size portions. This gives you the chance to see your progress from day to day more clearly. For example, instead of keeping that marathon you’ve always wanted to run in mind every morning when putting on your running shoes, take it day by day, enjoying all the little victories that come in between. Then, once you’ve made steady progress, it’s good to take a look at the big picture every now and then to see how far you’ve progressed, instead of being defeated daily by how impossibly far the destination seems to be.

Most importantly, you need to have a compelling reason behind your goal. If you do, your odds of succeeding increase tremendously. We’re quite clever, being even able to cheat ourselves at times. It’s easier to keep yourself in check during the motivational crisis that is bound to happen sooner or later, when you have a strong conviction behind your ambition.

If you give in to making excuses, you’ll find yourself back among your old habits quicker than you might’ve imagined possible. So, the next time you really wish to make a change, increase your odds by keeping these key points in mind.