How to build consistency with habits, Part 2

[3 minute read] (ESL learners – click on the bolded words to see explanations and notes. Try the exercise at the bottom after! πŸ™‚ )

This post is a continuation of the last one β€” How to build consistency with habits, Part 1. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d suggest you start there and then come back to this one.

Since I already introduced this post in Part 1, I’ll just jump right in this time with the last three tips.

4. Expect it to feel uncomfortable at first

Unfamiliar things will always feel uncomfortable. That’s kind of nature’s way of trying to keep us safe and on familiar territory.

So if you’re trying to change something in your life, this can be a bit of a thorn in your side. We are creatures of habit, so your brain and mind will want to pull you back into your comfort zone.

My best remedy to this is to expect things to feel uncomfortable for at least a few weeks. Do it anyways β€” and imagine yourself with the new habit as the new “comfortable.”

But of course, do look for ways to make the habit as easy and convenient as possible. Maybe you can prepare your gym bag in advance so you can just grab it on your way out, or batch create your meals if you’re trying to eat healthier, or any other help your new habit may need.

5. Go for at least a minimal period, no matter what

You want to build consistency with a new habit, but you probably don’t expect it to happen overnight. So how long do you think it will realistically take to build this new habit? Set a timeline, and make sure it isn’t unrealistically short.

And then, stick to it. If you told yourself you’d five it 6 months, don’t give up cause you don’t see results after 3. Keep at it and maintain your resolve for the full 6 months.

6. See setbacks as part of the journey

I used to have an “all or nothing” mindset when it came to new habits. Back when I was trying to get into the habit of working out regularly, I’d set myself the goal of working out 3 times per week.

But of course, it’s hard to just hit the ground running with something like this if you’re used to being a total couch potato. I didn’t yet have the space in my schedule or a plan for what I would do during these workouts.

And whenever I missed the mark and did only 2 or 1 workouts per week, I’d feel totally dejected. I saw it as failure β€” but I should have seen it as progress. Doing 1 workout per week is still the heck of a lot better and much closer to my goal than doing 0.

These days when I try to build a new habit, I look at it more like trying to reduce the “missed days” from 100% to 0%, gradually. Before I got into working out, I missed working out 100% of my days. But even if I could work out just once a week, I was then missing only 86% of days.

If you see the goal not as getting to 0% right away, but gradually lowering the number, you’ll feel much less discouraged if you veer off course.

And there we have it β€” 6 tips in total for building consistency with new habits.

What is your own experience with building consistency in your habits? What has helped you the most? Drop any more advice in the comments below!

ESL Notes (9 words / expressions)

Definitions written with reference to Cambridge Dictionary

A thorn in your side: something that causes problems for you. (Back to the text)

Batch create: to create a lot of something at once. For example, if you batch create meals, you might prepare meals for the next three days in one evening. This normally takes less time than if you had to separately create each of the 6 meals, because you can just use more of the same ingredients and only clean up once. Note that you can use “batch” with any verb where it makes sense. (Back to the text)

Stick to something: continue to do something. (Back to the text)

Hit the ground running: to immediately have success at something. (Back to the text)

Couch potato: someone who likes to sit or lie on the couch all the time and doesn’t exercise a lot. (Back to the text)

Miss the mark: fail to achieve the result you wanted. (Back to the text)

Dejected: discouraged, demotivated. (Back to the text)

Get into (doing something): to become interested in an activity and start doing it. (Back to the text)

Veer off course: to change direction. Metaphorically, this means you don’t follow the plan you originally wanted to follow, and get distracted or run into problems. (Back to the text)


Want to start using these words and make sure you don’t forget them? Try this exercise! Think about these questions (discuss them with someone) or write down your answers, using the word or expression in your discussion or answer.

  • What is a thorn in your side at your job? (For example, for restaurants, health inspectors can be a thorn in their side)
  • Do you ever batch cook your meals? Is there anything else you batch create?
  • What is the longest you’ve stuck to a new habit? How long did you stick to your habit the last time you tried to create one?
  • Did you hit the ground running when you started your current job, or when you started studying what you’re currently studying?
  • Are you, or is anyone you know, a couch potato?
  • Think of someone you really admire β€” a musician, athlete, politician, coworker, etc. Describe a time when they missed the mark with something they did (a song that wasn’t popular, a speech that people misunderstood, etc.).
  • What would you say to a child who wants to become good at something, but is not succeeding yet and is feeling dejected?
  • Think about a hobby you love doing. When did you first get into it? How?
  • Do you think it can be helpful to veer off course occasionally, when you are working on your goals?

Feel free to try writing some more sentences, or a text, of your own to practice some more.

Thank you for reading! These ESL notes, links and exercises each take several hours to make, so if you found this useful, the kindest thing you can do is to like the post, leave a comment, or share with anyone who needs it. Have questions about any other words? Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to reply!

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