The Three C’s of Good Habits: Commitment, Consistency, Cognizance
Many people want to start a new habit, but very few are successful. That’s because they created the habit without an action plan. The key to success is focusing less on the habit itself and more on how you’re going to integrate it into your daily life. To make that happen, follow the three C’s: commitment, consistency and cognizance.
Let’s break down each of the three C’s and how they set a foundation for every successful habit.
Every habit requires some level of commitment. That means working towards the end goal even when you don’t feel like it. People feel super motivated when they begin a new habit. But as time goes on, that motivation wanes, and commitment will be the only factor that helps you stay on course. The best things in life don’t come easy—if they did, you wouldn’t need advice on how to form good habits!
Habits created on a whim never last. The habit might have sounded like a good idea in the moment, but fleeting desire isn’t enough to make that habit a part of your everyday life. Habits do need some amount of desire because there’s no point in pursuing something you don’t want. But chances are, you won’t feel that burning desire for change every single day. A strong level of commitment is what will make the habits really stick.
Many people struggle to commit to good habits because they require self-sufficiency. It’s much easier to keep commitments with friends, family and coworkers because there are consequences when we don’t follow through on our promises. We don’t want to disappoint the people we care about. Personal habits don’t involve other people, which makes it easier to give up on them. People are more likely to commit to their habits when they ask loved ones to hold them accountable.
In order for a habit to stick, it has to become consistent. Waiting until you’re in the mood to workout isn’t a habit. Whether you’re feeling motivated or not, you have to practice the habit on a regular basis. In fact, habits are most likely to succeed when you practice them on a daily basis. When you first start out, you’ll need a great deal of willpower to adhere to a consistent schedule. But after a while, the habit will become second nature to you.
How often the habit occurs depends on the person. What’s important is that you follow the same level of consistency as much as possible. For example, many individuals want to get into the habit of waking up early. The only way to solidify that habit is to wake up early every single day. Waking up at the new time will continue to be a struggle if you roll out of bed at sunrise one morning but sleep in the next.
Besides the frequency of your habit, you also have to consider the time of day. Everyone has a different idea of what it means to wake up early. Choose a specific time and commit to it. If your alarm is set for 6:00am, get out of bed at 6:00am. Don’t hit snooze for the next hour! Your body will have an easier time adjusting when you keep the habit consistent.
If you want the new habit to succeed, you must remain cognizant. Cognizance means you think about the habit and anticipate when it’s supposed to happen. You can’t perform a habit if you forget about it! People often neglect a habit at first because they haven’t grown used to it yet. The beginning of a new habit requires a great deal of cognizance until it becomes routine. But, as mentioned before, the habit will start to feel automatic with time.
Until that day comes, visual reminders are super effective at instilling a new habit. Let’s say you want to start off every morning with meditation. This habit is easy to gloss over for people who always rush to get to work on time. Consider leaving a sticky note on your bathroom mirror that reminds you to meditate for a few minutes. A supportive friend might even be willing to send you daily texts. Experiment with some different strategies until you find one that keeps you cognizant of the new habit.
Make it a point to develop good habits
You have the freedom to pursue any habit you want. No matter what it is, make sure you’re following these three C’s along the way. Habits are way easier said than done, but they’re very much possible when you stay committed, practice consistency and remain cognizant. Stick with the new habit, and pretty soon you won’t be able to imagine your life without it!