Developing new habits takes time, patience and sometimes constantly reminding yourself of why you’re trying to develop a new habit in the first place. Perhaps like me, you’ve been motivated to develop a new habit. You’ve done your research, organised the things you need, and continued for a number of days before falling flat on your face, being left with that familiar feeling of ‘maybe it’s just me’.
The truth is, it’s not just you. Everyone I talk to who has tried to develop new habits has told me the same thing – they start with good intentions but just can’t seem to go longer than a few days or at least a week. Whether it’s general life or some degree of self-sabotage, something seems to come up, forcing them back into their old ways.
When it comes to developing new habits, ‘the hump’ is very real. The hump can come after a few days or even after a couple of weeks. It’s the point where you’re motivation dwindles and you’re tempted to go back to your old routine, questioning if the new you is really someone you can become.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve tried for example to stick to a workout routine only to give up and fall back into my old habits. This was basically the story of my twenties. Over time I’ve learned how to overcome ‘the hump’ and it hasn’t always been easy to do. In fact, every time I try to develop a new habit, I’ve had to face it as if it were the first time all over again. It doesn’t seem to go away and so I think it’s worth exploring this because the hump can kill off your good intentions all too easily.
In this post, we’ll look at how developing new habits can be much easier when you know how to overcome the dreaded hump.
1. Develop new habits that are realistic
One of the best things you can do, in my experience, is to begin your new habit journey by setting realistic goals. If developing new habits seems too hard, you’re probably setting your sights too high. For example, if you’ve never gone to the gym before, planning to go three times a week might make you come face to face with the hump much sooner than you think. You could easily become burned out and overtired before you’ve really got into the swing of things.
Instead, it might be easier to set your sights on once or twice a week. You know your own limits so set yourself realistic targets, ones you can stick to and you’ll find developing new habits much easier and more enjoyable.
2. Remember the hump is coming
No matter how well you’re doing, the hump is usually coming. It’s that point where your initial motivation runs out and you’re left wondering if you should bother anymore. The hump is powerful and doesn’t discriminate so don’t feel bad when it rears its ugly head! Developing new habits is easier when you keep in mind that the hump will appear at some point. So when the hump does pop up, you’ll be prepared for it and you’ll be in a stronger position to push past it.
Remember – it’s not your fault when you come up against the hump, it’s a hard job trying to change your routine, especially when you’ve had the same habits for decades.
3. Quit relying on motivation
Motivation is something that comes and goes depending on what you see, watch or read. Some days you’ll wake up and your motivation will be sky high and other days you’ll wake up and feel like doing nothing and you won’t understand why. Motivation is usually caused by an external force, by something inspiring. This is why it cannot be relied on. When you come up against the hump, you’re reminded that no one is going to develop good habits for you and that at the end of the day, it has to come from you, from within.
So, don’t rely on your motivation levels to see you through, you have to make a decision to keep going, even when you don’t feel like it because you know it’s the right thing to do and you know what the reward is on the other side.
4. Get back on the horse
No one is perfect and no one can keep up the same momentum forever. If you fall off your new routine whilst developing new habits, don’t worry. Don’t be tempted to feel as if you’re a failure, simply jump right back on that horse when you next can. For example, if you get injured in the gym and have to take a week off, don’t worry, keep planning your new habits whilst you’re resting so you’re ready to climb over the hump when you’re fit.
If you go out for a meal and eat more than you have been eating lately, don’t punish yourself. In the morning, get back on that eating plan. From time to time, you will have slumps or get distracted. As long as you don’t slip into your old habits for too long you’ll be fine. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go again!
5. Be patient
Developing new habits takes a lot of patience, usually with yourself. You aren’t going to see the benefits of your new habits straight away. It’s easy to give up when that hump comes along and this is when patience is crucial. Meaningful, worthwhile habits take time to develop, after all, you’re trying to change your lifestyle and this cannot be done in a matter of days. Patience and consistency are key and are the only way to develop new habits that actually last.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you won’t see any meaningful, long-lasting weight loss until you’re a few weeks in and this is going to be way past the hump. You probably won’t even be able to see a difference in your body until you’re 4-6 weeks into your journey.
So if you feel frustrated whilst you’re developing new habits, remember it’s going to take a bit of time to see meaningful change.
Leap over the hump with consistency
Developing new habits isn’t always easy but it shouldn’t feel like an uphill battle either. Keep your goals small and realistic to begin with until you’re ready to scale them up into something larger. Overall, your consistency is going to pay off in the long run. You’ll likely feel some degree of discomfort in the beginning but that doesn’t last long if you keep picking yourself up, especially when you don’t feel like it.
The hump might try to block your path but by following the steps above you can climb over it and make your life much easier.