Today I will share with you the trick I have been using for years now to acquire habits I want, good habits that I desire.
I has never failed me once.
So what's the trick?
I break the habit into actions and do them regularly for 90 days.
And that's the trick!
But when I say regularly, it might be daily or thrice a week or once a week. But never less frequent than once a week. Regardless of the schedule I pick, it always works.
What skills have I used it to acquire?
1. Regular Exercise.
In 2011, I decided to form the habit of regular exercise. I broke it down to actions I could take daily. Now, here's where many people make the first mistake. Most people will immediately start thinking of a Fitness club to join. Wrong! When acquiring a habit, focus on the core actions that define that habit.
Exercise, for instance, is composed of actions that exert your muscles in unusual ways and make you expend lots of energy. And the actions can be lifting weights, doing push-ups, running, swimming or cycling. Tying them to going to a Gym will only give you more trouble.
So what I did was to choose the actions that presented the least path of resistance, one that requires no more than an instant determination to do it. After researching online, I picked push-ups. Push-ups are great and exercise nearly all the muscles in the body. It builds up the core muscles in ways no one single other exercise can.
I started doing push-ups daily. For the first week, I was enjoying it. I quickly progressed from doing 10 per day to 15 per day. By the third week, it became a chore. Once in a while I skipped it. Then I started bribing myself to do it. Whenever I kept to my regimen for some days without break, I'll celebrate it. After 3 months, it became as easy and regular as taking my bath. Even when I traveled round Nigeria for over two months and was waking in one town only to sleep in another town, I hardly skipped my push-ups. And while I was on my French immersion program in Cotonou, my room-mate couldn't hide his admiration for my consistency. Now I do 30 push-ups at a go, the slow and intense version.
I tried the same for my swimming, but I couldn't keep at weekly for 3 months straight.
2. Reading my bible daily.
One day in 2005, I decided to begin reading my bible daily. It thought it was going to be easy. I didn't give myself any target beyond just reading a portion of the bible daily. Well, a month later it became the toughest thing I was trying to do. I couldn't believe it. I thought I was under a spiritual attack. I prayed and fasted about reading my bible daily. I never expected that I was going to find it extremely hard. I still ended up skipping days in a row. And there were days I only read a verse of the bible or one of the very short chapters.
After some time, I became very consistent at it. It had become a habit. Then I went on to set the target of a chapter a day. Now I read 3 chapters a day, and though I wake up 4:00am every week day and get home between 10pm and 12 midnight, I never miss reading 3 chapters a day. And I do it effortlessly.
3. Brushing with my left hand
In 2010, I began brushing my teeth with my left hand. I read online that it's one of the ways I can use my right brain more and develop new abilities, especially music talents as I am tone deaf. At first, it was very awkward to do. I had to hold my left hand with my right hand to brush my teeth. Some days, I'll forget and will have to do it at night. And to prevent my teeth from decaying, after brushing with my left hand, I brush with my right hand.
Well now, I never make the mistake of holding the toothbrush in my right hand. I brush so well daily and exclusively with my left hand. And my teeth is white.
I also tried writing with my left hand, but couldn't keep it up regularly for 3 months.
Those are the most spectacular.
I'm currently working on writing an article a day. I have begun and I'm still in my first month. If I keep it up till December, it will become a habit for life.
Wanna share your own trick? Feel free!