When building a habit, repetition is the key. You need to reinforce the trigger that will lead you to your daily task. The thing is, the daily triggers may be the most important part of this habit-building process, especially when you are thinking of skipping a day. In order to keep your inertia, better keep the minimum of your challenge than completelly skipping the day.
Find your minimum
Let’s take the example of you are building a habit of daily reading. Finding the time or energy to read can be difficult on some days, your minimum can be to read for 1 minute, which will be a lot more beneficial than completely skipping the day.
Reinforce your habit
The main reason for this benefit is you are still working on your daily routine of getting prepared, taking out your book, and getting in your reading position. While doing this, your mind is building the connections that lead to a daily reading habit. You are reinforcing the automation that leads you to read as soon as you wake up, get home, or whenever you decided to read. You are maybe only reading 1 minute, but you’re reinforcing the trigger that leads to your habit.
The other benefit that may happen is that once you started, you actually feel better than you expected and feel like doing more. If you just read for a 1 minute because you don’t feel like doing more, as you start reading you may feel like in a better mood to read more, maybe 5 minutes or until the end of the chapter. If it is the case, go ahead and enjoy it, you have just shown yourself you just needed a little push, and that you don’t need to fear your challenge so much. You have just reinforced your trigger.
Don’t forget to reward yourself
In any case, every time you do your daily task, doesn’t matter how small it is, you deserve a pat on the back for keeping pushing on your new habit.
This can be applied to most challenges. Any workout can challenge, instead of skipping a day, do 1 push-up, or 1 sit-up. If you are writing every day (diary, blog, book…), write one word. If you are learning a new skill, practice it for 1 minute.
However be careful not to do this every time. Don’t make it a habit of only doing the minimum. This is a way to work through a few difficult days. If every day is a difficult day, you should think about adjusting your challenge and goal for it to match better your schedule/life. (see tip on Adjusting)