You could continue to beat yourself up about not being able to achieve your goals and stick to new habits…OR you could learn how to make study goal setting and habit forming easy.
Whether you’re checking out this episode in the new year, the start of a new academic year, or a random Wednesday in March, this post is going to help you figure out how to affect positive change in your studies (and other areas of your life) with more ease and more long-lasting effect.
I’m going to share three simple steps to make study goal setting and habit forming easy, with some examples for exactly how you can apply these lessons to your studying to not only help you set awesome study goals and intentions for yourself, but actually achieve them.
This post originated as a podcast episode which you can listen to below or search for episode 143 of the Chloe Made Me Study podcast. Or, if you’re a more of a learn-by-reading student, carry on for the rough-and-ready blog version based on the script.
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How to Build Unshakeable Studying Confidence in Just 5 Days
So you can graduate with the grades you want – and feel more motivated, positive and focused along the way.
In this post I want to talk about HOW we can affect positive change in our lives – our studying lives andddd other areas.
All too often, we can approach habit forming from quite a stern, intense place. I don’t know about you but I can find myself saying pretttttty often – “Jesus I really need to sort my shiz out. Or, OK, it’s time to get my shiz together.”
This is quite a negative way to talk about ourselves, right? Seeing as we’re all pretty miraculous beings on this earth just trying to do our best and be happy.
What about if we approached habit forming from a positive place? Where it was EASY for us to win? What if we saw that we could affect pretty awesome positive change in our lives WITHOUT beating ourselves up, berating ourselves and giving up everything we love?
So let’s talk about easy ways to build helpful habits, for our studying and for other areas of our lives.
The easiest way to form and stick to a habit? Make it a part of your identity.
The easiest way to make a habit a part of your identity? Do it consistently.
The easiest way to stick to a habit consistently? Make it easy and decide on your minimum viable habit.
3 ways to make study goal setting and habit forming easy
1. The easiest way to form and stick to a habit? Make it a part of your identity.
What does this actually mean? Think about WHO you want to become? Think about the type of person or the character traits you want to embody. What type of person achieves the goals you want to achieve? Asking yourself these questions will help you engage with the behaviours you’ll need to demonstrate.
‘I want to achieve a First-class degree.’
OK…so what type of person does that?
2. The easiest way to make a habit a part of your identity? Do it consistently. Do it imperfectly.
Focus on consistency over perfection. And if you fall out of consistency? You say you’re going to study every single day but then you go a few days without studying? If that happens, focus on PERsistency instead – your ability to draw a line in the sand and make a fresh start, getting back into it.
What we do consistently speaks volumes to who we are and what we prioritise.
If we consistently drink a lot of water, we build the identity of someone who hydrates themselves.
If we consistently study after work even when we don’t want to, we build the identity of a proactive, dedicated student.
It’s not about being perfect. In fact focusing on imperfect action means you’ll be more likely to DO the thing.
3. The easiest way to stick to a habit consistently? Make it easy and decide on your minimum viable habit.
It can be really tempting to set ourselves a big, sexy habit because we’re bombarded by the idea in society that bigger is better. That intensity is praised over consistency. But whenever we try to change anything about our life…we’re going to face a certain amount of resistance. Resistance from our usual routines and patterns that are happy as they are. And this resistance gets bigger as the change we’re aiming for gets bigger. So the way to reduce the resistance and actually stick to the habit long-term is to make it so easy it’s almost impossible to fail.
If you want to be more consistent with your studying, because you know that little and often is better than pulling all-nighters close to your deadlines…then maybe you’ve set yourself a new habit to study for 1 hour every week day. This sounds doable for sure at first…but this is likely to stir up quite a lot of resistance because that’s an hour of your current routine and habits that need to completely shift.
What would happen if you changed this habit to study for 5 minutes a day, every weekday? What comes up for you if I suggest this? Are you thinking…what the F is the point in studying for 5 minutes?
But here’s the thing…we WANT to make it so easy that it’s almost impossible to fail. This means that on some days you do your 5 minutes and then carry on for 55 more, but on other days, when you’re just not feeling it, you remind yourself it’s just 5 minutes…and you pick a small task to do – email your tutor, set up your next essay doc, tidy your desk and bookmark 5 journal articles to look over.
Once your 5 minutes are up – you’re free to go. But you’re actually free to go because you don’t have to feel guilty for only doing 5 minutes. You’ve put a YES in the habit box for the day.
So I want you to get clear on what your minimum viable habit is – your MVH. What’s the smallest outcome you’ll accept success for? Then focus on just doing that and suddenly you’ll make study goal setting and habit forming easy.
Ways to listen:
- Listen in the player near the top of this page
- Click to listen on Apple Podcasts.
- Click to listen on Spotify.
- Click to listen on Google Podcasts.
Resources and links:
- Check out my membership, the Kickbutt Students Club.
- Check out my range of study skills trainings.
- Sign up to my awesome email newsletter – Students Who Graduate.
- Grab a copy of my book – The Return to Study Handbook.