Making changes in our lives is tough. What makes forming new habits and getting rid of old ones difficult is the concentration involved. For most of us, taking a shower is easy to do. It doesn't need much thought. We just go take a shower. No training is involved, and we don't have trouble doing it consistently. Since an early age, it just has been a habit.

Compare this with learning how to write software. Most would agree that for beginners, this is a complicated process. Learning all the rules, fixing bugs, and being able to focus are all tough. Because of the energy involved with this, most of us struggle to develop new habits like coding or working out.

Don't worry, making positive changes in our lives does not have to be as hard as we think it is. Using a few tactics, we can trick our bodies and our minds to learn new habits. Below, I've listed three ways to do this. I hope this advice helps you to grow into the person you aspire to be.

1. Just do what you dread for five minutes 

One of the biggest reasons we fail to change is that we become intimidated by the effort involved. Think about someone who needs to clean their house after a party. The house is messy and there's filth everywhere. Most of us ignore this problem for as long as possible until it becomes unbearable. But to get in the habit of being clean, all you have to do is start small. You need to cheat the system so you can win in the beginning.

To do this, next time just say you're going to clean up as much as possible in five minutes. After five minutes, you're done. What you'll notice is that when the five minutes are up, you'll probably keep cleaning. Why? Because it's human nature to not leave things half done. It's much easier to continue doing something than to stop it. So just commit to putting in five minutes of work, and let your mind push you through to do the rest. Remember, starting is the hardest part.

2. Focus on the easy part and the hard part will follow

Every day, I force myself to go to the gym. Doing so allows me to be more productive and satisfied throughout the day. While I have being doing this for a while, there are still days when I absolutely dread going. To convince myself to still go even when I'm tired, all I do is focus on getting in my car and driving to the gym. I don't put pressure on myself to have an amazing workout or try to burn more calories than I ever have before. I just tell myself my one job is to get to the gym. Once I've done that, I've completed my goal.

But what happens when I get to the gym? Well, because I drove all the way over there, I just work out. And after I get started, I get in a rhythm and take care of business. By focusing on the easy part first, the hard part that requires effort falls in place.

3. Reward yourself

It's important that you have small rewards to give yourself when you hit your goals for the day. On some days, I am able to both go to the gym and do yoga. Whenever I have an all-star day like that, I like to reward myself with a slice of Whole Foods Pizza. It's a small reward, but it goes a long way in keeping me motivated.

No matter what your goal is, make sure you have a prize in place to reward you for reaching it. It can even be something small, like marking it off on your calendar or taking an hour to watch your favorite TV show. We only have a limited amount of discipline we can use in a day. Allow yourself to refuel by indulging in a guilty pleasure every once in a while.

Published on: Feb 26, 2015