How to Create a Positive Habit

One habit most university students want to break is procrastination.  How do you move at full throttle without wasting precious study moments?

Step 1: You must want a change from a current situation or condition.

Pretend you’ve got five AU courses in one semester.  You’ve got to move to keep on top of your study schedule, and most likely need to work steadily without a lot of free time.

But what if you’ve got the problem of procrastination?  Procrastination can block you from achieving your goals, getting a high paying salary, or acquiring a degree.  But you have the power to change it all—in a heartbeat.  It starts with the desire to make the change.

As an example, a Hindu spiritualist named Gopi Krishna went to higher education only to find himself reading books of interest rather than his required courses.  He sidetracked from his key goal: gaining credentials.  He procrastinated.

And you, as a student, have so much to gain from acquiring the credential of your dream degree program.

The first step to stop procrastinating is to want to change.  For any serious student, the shift from procrastination to productivity needs to happen today.  We’ve got the ability to turn our habits around in a heartbeat.

Step 2: You need to identify how to make the change.

Once you decide to change, you need to figure out how to change.  There are strategies to do this.

James Cleary wrote a book on habits, and in that book, he identifies four elements for creating a habit: cue, craving, response, and reward.  Let’s make all these elements work together for our dreams of overcoming procrastination and getting credentialed.

A cue can be anything that acts as a trigger or signal to engage in some action.  Your alarm going off can signal you to eat breakfast.  Your finished breakfast can signal you to sit at your desk, which signals you to clock in your time on an app, which triggers you to pull out your course books and read a chapter.

The above actually combines the cue with the response.  But there’s a stage in between: craving or desire.  For instance, you might want to sit at your desk and study because you dream of acquiring a degree, earning a high wage, or going onto grad school.  Even if you lack the craving or desire, I believe you can get that desire by pouring love on your task such that it becomes your “baby.” Condition yourself to crave that goal, to desire it like it’s your true love.

And you should build in rewards.  Don’t just think the degree is the reward.  Think also, “When I study for ten hours, I will feel satisfied that I accomplished my goal today.” You may also let minor rewards come into play, such as a trip to the grocery store to buy your favorite healthy treat.

But beware of obstacles.  For me, I don’t have the best rapport with my tutor but the dynamic with a tutor is very important to me.  So, instead of sluffing off my work while begrudging each interaction with my tutor, I try to find all the best traits of him and dwell on them.  When it comes to working around obstacles, an attitude of love, openness, and patience performs miracles.

Step 3: You must take action or initiate change.

All it takes is a little bit of structure to get something going.  Think of what all your cues (your triggers) and responses will be.  Will you set the alarm for 8 a.m.  and study right after cereal?  After work, at 5 pm, will you do three hours of studies with short five-minute breaks every half hour?

Create the desire.  You can love even your most hated subject if you are truly inclined.  And you can call up that love in an instant.  Simply feel intense fondness for that hated subject while dwelling only on its every positive angle.  Don’t let negativity hold you back.  Replace negativity with love.

Remember to reward yourself.  Only you know what that perfect reward is.  If it’s delightful and doesn’t set you back, you deserve it!  And you’ve earned it!  The satisfaction of accomplishing or overcoming obstacles is often reward enough.  But you do deserve to indulge every so often.

Step 4: Make the new habit a daily or weekly event.

You should feel great about coming this far.  Pat yourself on the back.  Now it’s time to make the habit consistent and give it your all—every day or every week.

New habits can get you credentials, a higher paying career, a degree—anything you could ever dream of attaining because you truly have no limits.  No-one can put limits on you that you choose to reject.  That’s because your potential is infinitely brighter than all the supernovas shimmering throughout the universe.