Have you ever given up on forming a good habit because you got bored?
If so, you are definitely not alone. Boredom is an obstacle that blocks many people from forming good habits. For example, doing the same type of workout over and over is a drag. As another example, eating the same healthy meals over and over can get tedious, too.
In this article, you will learn about a strategy that I refer to as habit tweaks. These small adjustments can make the difference between a habit that lasts for years or a habit that dies after just a few days or weeks.
When A Good Habit Becomes Boring
If you get bored with a good habit, there are only four options on how to proceed:
- Option #1: Give up. This option is certainly not ideal. However, many people unfortunately throw in the towel when a good habit becomes tedious.
- Option #2: Change nothing. Another option is to trudge along with your current routine and hope that it somehow becomes more enjoyable. Unfortunately, that rarely works. If you are stuck in a rut, and you change nothing, you will probably end up giving up at some point.
- Option #3: Change everything. Another option is to move in the complete opposite direction, and change everything at once. (An example is starting a fad diet, or switching from one fad diet to another.) Unfortunately, this rarely works either. Change too much too soon, and you can easily get overwhelmed, which also makes you more likely to give up.
- Option #4: Tweak. The final option is the one that people often fail to consider. Instead of giving up, changing nothing, or changing everything, you could make some small adjustments. This approach is usually the most effective way to stay on track.
Variety is the spice of good habits. Minor modifications can keep things fresh and lead to better results.
An Experiment on Exercise Variety
Research has demonstrated that habit tweaks help with habit formation. In one study led by Dr. Christopher Janelle of the University of Florida, volunteers were divided into three groups.
One group was required to perform the same exercise program for eight weeks, a second group was given a program that featured variety, and the third group was not given any specific directions. As you might expect, people in the group with the varied program were significantly more likely to stick to the program, and they reported higher enjoyment levels as well. 1
Habit Tweaks for Exercise
There are many ways to use habit tweaks to make exercise a habit. You could exercise at different locations, with different exercises, with different people, with different equipment, with different music, or with different fitness apps.
Habit tweaks make exercise fun, and they are one of the key factors that help me stay on track week after week, month after month, and year after year. Below is a summary of a typical week in my workout program.
As you can see, a typical week includes many tweaks for my exercise habit. There are different workout locations, a combination of solo workouts and workouts with other people, and a different workout focus (and group of exercises) for each day of the week.
If I tried to force myself to do the same workout every day, there is no way that I would be so consistent with exercise. As an added benefit, mixing up your workout program also makes you a more well-rounded athlete.
Note: While the schedule above works very well for my fitness goals, it is not intended as a recommendation for everyone. It is simply an example. You might not want or need to work out as often as me. Your goals could require a very different program. You might also want more or less variety.
Another Example of Habit Tweaks
As another example, imagine that you want to form the habit of drinking a healthy smoothie each day. Let’s say that your typical drink contains the following ingredients:
- 8 ounces of 100% coconut water
- 1 scoop unflavored whey protein powder
- 1 banana
- 1 cup frozen spinach
- 1 cup frozen berries
No matter how much you might enjoy it at first, if you try to have that same exact drink every day, it’s only a matter of time before you will get bored. Rather than abandoning the habit, here are five simple habit tweaks that you could make on certain days:
- Add a tablespoon of cocoa powder OR
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of nut butter OR
- Add some fresh mint OR
- Replace the frozen berries with one cup of frozen pineapple OR
- Replace the coconut water with 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk
By making some minor adjustments, you could create an endless variety of smoothie recipes. That would keep things fresh and make your habit much more likely to last.
Summary and Final Thoughts
Boredom is an obstacle that blocks many people from forming good habits. If you find yourself getting bored with a habit, take that as a sign to make some adjustments.
You can also be proactive and use habit tweaks to prevent yourself from getting bored in the first place. Ask yourself how you can tweak your good habits daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonally. Habit tweaks can make the difference between a habit that lasts for years or a habit that dies after just a few days or weeks.
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About the author: Pete Leibman is the Creator of StrongerHabits.com. He is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and executive recruiter, and his work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and CNNMoney.com. His latest book is titled Work Stronger: Habits for More Energy, Less Stress, and Higher Performance at Work.
References for this article
- Kristin Harmel, “Adding Variety To An Exercise Routine Helps Increase Adherence,” University of Florida, October 24, 2000, http://news.ufl.edu/archive/2000/10/adding-variety-to-an-exercise-routine-helps-increase-adherence.html.