Don't think twice, it's alright.

To form habits and stick with them is a never-ending quest. It’s important to keep trying different ways and see what helps you the best. Never give up.

I would like you all to travel with me to late 2015. I’m three years into my first job, completely lost about the future. I knew I could survive in the market, but I wasn’t sure if I could thrive. My bank balance is almost nil because I spent more than I saved. I am the only primary earning member in the family. So, I have a limited time to be back on track.

Some people work well under pressure, and I was not one of them. I started procrastinating. I started avoiding responsibilities. I spent most of my time glued to my laptop surfing the internet or binge-watching movies. (I finished Prison Break; it was amazing!) But hey, a lot of us have been there and found our way out of it. So did I!

I knew I needed to form good habits and routines to feel confident and to become a person who takes action. In 2015, James Clear was probably writing Atomic Habits. So, writing in the diary, self-talk, and strong will were the only way to deal with it. I started writing problems and solutions in my diary. I knew that I had to take one small step at a time. Designing a schedule and creating the high-impact to-do for the day was not going to help.

I had read about the technique — No-Zero days. It says there shouldn’t be a day where you don’t do anything towards your goal. If you’ve 5 mins before the day ends and you haven’t done your push-ups today, go ahead and do two push-ups. That’s okay. I liked the minimal-commitment approach from this technique and decided to follow it.

I started with the two most basic habits — 1. make your bed once you get up, 2. Brush your teeth before bed at night. I picked these two because they required minimal effort. As always, the first two to three days were perfect. Like any typical fourth habit-day, I skipped brushing. I ignored it for a day or two but skipping became the new habit!

Well… back to the whiteboard! I knew I needed a workaround for this. I realised I don’t follow these two habits because I think twice; give myself a choice! Do I need to make my bed right after I get up? Maybe I can do it once I’ve my tea. Oh, I need to brush my teeth. There is still 30 min to go to bed. I can do it in 5 mins. When you think if I should do it or I can do it later, you’re more likely to skip it.

So, I decided to not think twice about one of the two habits. I picked up brushing (as it had more benefits than the other). I get up and start making my bed. I go pick up the brush before I want to go to bed.

From 2015 to date, I have followed both habits. Over the years, I’ve formed many more habits with this technique. Sure, there are days, sometimes a week goes by when I don’t follow them. After all, I’m not perfect. This technique makes it easy to return to habits even if you lose track in-between.

So, here’s a thing or two you can take away from this:

  1. Accept yourself and your feelings. Once you do, your battle is half-won.
  2. Writing things down on paper helps. It takes them off your mind and makes you feel lighter.
  3. If you’re too deep in the hole, take the tiniest step at a time.
  4. Never give up.
  5. Once you know your way out — things you need to do, habits you need to form, don’t think twice, it’s alright.