So you’ve decided on a new habit to implement. You’ve determined how you will monitor your progress. You’ve scheduled the new habit into your routine. And you’ve found a person to hold you accountable.
There is only one thing left to do…
Take the first step
But when is the BEST time to begin?
The first step is always the hardest. If we are waiting for the perfect time to start we will never get started because THERE IS NO PERFECT TIME. Don’t wait until Monday. Don’t wait until after the holidays. Take your first step straight away. It does not have to be a huge step. Let’s say you want to develop a habit of walking every day. Your first step does not have to be walking two miles. Start with a walk around the block and gradually increase your distance.
Extra reading: this article explains why Thursday (what?) is the best day to start a new habit.
Sometimes circumstances change in a way that makes a fresh start possible. A clean slate is a powerful time to launch a new healthy habit. Without consciously choosing to make a healthy change at this time, we can unconsciously set ourselves up to repeat bad habits for extended periods of time.
Examples of a clean slate: January 1, the first day of school, the first day of vacation or the first day back, a new home, marriage, divorce, birth, death of a loved one, or a new job. You can create a clean slate by rearranging a room, giving a room a fresh coat of paint, changing your route to work, getting a dog, or joining a new social group or signing up for a class.
Sometimes we are hit by a lightning bolt that transforms our habits instantly. We encounter a new idea, acquire new knowledge, or our beliefs change and suddenly a new habit replaces a long-standing habit – without preparation, without small steps, without wavering. Unfortunately, this is something that happens to us. Rarely can we invoke a lightning bolt strategy on command.
Examples of a lightning bolt: super big events (could be a clean slate event), pregnancy, DUI, medical condition, or even something as small as reading a book or article, watching a movie, or a casual comment from a stranger. Sometimes, nothing in particular happens. We are just hit by a lightning bolt and decide to change.
For more on the strategy of the first step, check out this video from my habit guru, Gretchen Rubin.