9 Tips to Building a Habit

12 January 2016 By Hillary Hoffower

If you’re like most, you began 2016 eager for theopportunities and possibilities for a better you or better year. And, if you’relike most, you’ve already broken your resolution just two weeks in. With asmall amount of discipline and these simple steps to creating a habit, you can getback on track and make 2016 the year to stick to your resolutions.

Choose an Attainable Goal

Make sure your resolutions are realistic and feasible; you’lljust set yourself up for failure if you make your goal unattainable. Most of all,make sure it’s something you really want, not what other people want or whatyou feel you should want. If you’d like to carve out more time to work out onboard, go for it. If the typical fitness resolution isn’t your style, set agoal to bank your paycheck instead of blowing it or to better handle charterstress. Do what works for you.

As Alison Rentoul, also known as the Crew Coach, wrote inher blog, “Yachting can create a few more challenges for positivehabit-forming, as it’s hard to keep to routines. It’s important that you creategoals that your circumstances will allow you to keep.”

Pick a Cue and Choosea Reward

In his blog, Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, advises choosing a trigger to remind you tocomplete a habit and a reward to motivate you to finish it.

“First, choose a cue, like leaving your running shoes by thedoor then pick a reward — say piece of chocolate when you get home from thegym,” he writes as an example. “Eventually when you see the shoes, your brainwill start craving the reward, which will make it easier to work out day afterday.”

Make a Plan

Strategize a schedule and write it down. This will make youmore organized and help you focus on your end result; it’s easier to be moremotivated when your goals are laid out in front of you.

“Studies show that the best way to implement a New Year’sResolution is to write it down as a formula,” writes Duhigg in his blog. Headvises following this formula: “This year when I see [insert cue], I will[insert behavior] in order to get [insert reward].”

Writing it down also helps hold you accountable for youractions — or lack thereof. Written goals serve as a tangible reminder, andyou’re more likely to feel guilty if you see you haven’t accomplished them.

Start Simple and Small

Ease into a new habit by taking baby steps. It’s much betterto dip your toes into cold water and wade in as opposed to diving right in,isn’t it? For example, if your goal is make more time for fitness on board,begin by waking up 10 or 15 minutes before your duties start to stretch.

“Make a deal with yourself to go for a run twice a week, orcomplete certain chapters of your studies each day,” advises Rentoul.

The key here is consistency. Prove to yourself you cancommit to something small for, say, 28 days. Once you’re on a roll, it will bemuch easier to increase the difficulty.

Increase Your HabitSlightly

Once you’ve committed to your initial steps for a period oftime, start slowly taking larger steps. By this time, your drive andself-discipline will have increased and it will be easier to move deeper intoyour habit. Going along with the fitness example, try adding 10 minutes to youroriginal wake up time and throwing in some push-ups and planks to yourstretches.

Remind Yourself

It can be easy to forget your goal or feel a lack ofwillpower, especially when consumed with a busy charter season. Remember theplan you wrote down for tip two? Duhigg recommends posting it where you willsee it.

Place reminders everywhere to help you continue your habit —on your phone, on post-its attached to the mirror in your quarters, etc. Seeingthe post-it on the mirror as you brush your teeth every day will sink in overtime.

Tackle Failure

There will undoubtedly be a few bumps along the way. Peoplemake mistakes — it’s okay to fall from your habit at times. Understand what’sholding you back and think of a solution to the problem. Just make sure youhave a plan to get to hop back on the path when you fail. As Rentoul puts it,“Don’t beat yourself (too much) up if you lapse…Habits are formed over alifetime, not overnight.”

Get a Buddy

“Buddy up,” writes Rentoul. “If there’s someone else onboard with similar goals, join forces.”

Having someone work on a goal with you will keep youmotivated. In tune with the fitness example, you will be more likely to get outof bed early if you have someone depending on you to work out. If you haveseparate goals, ask each other at the end of the day what you’ve completed foryour goal that day. Having to share your accomplishments with someone will helphold you accountable to your habit.

Have Patience

Patience is essential for progress. Take your time and don’trush into things — you may feel overwhelmed and your resolution will end fasterthan it began. With patience, you will find yourself at the end of 2016 with aresolution that actually stuck and an improved you.