I set my alarm for all-kinds-of-early today so I could try again at one habit I can’t seem to stick with consistently: running.

If you’ve read this blog for long, you know that I am an on-again-off-again runner. I do well for weeks (even months), and then I don’t. One reason I consistently fail in my plans to run consistently is that running is not a habit.

For my husband, running is a habit. He runs daily, at 5 am, before getting ready for work. He runs while he catches up on Sportscenter.

His physical strength and health reflect his consistent habit of exercise.

The only way for me to achieve the level of health and fitness I desire is to make exercise a habit.

So I’m trying this: a mile a day. If I get up at 4:30, I can put my running clothes on, run a mile, make coffee, and be at my desk by 5 am. I can get a bit of work done, get a shower, and be ready to help my girls prepare for school by 6 am.

It must be a habit.

One of the reasons people struggle at accomplishing their goals online is that blogging, tweeting, and connecting becomes on-again/off-again. Without a habit, without consistency, it is impossible to have a healthy online presence. Your health online (like health offline) requires that you choose a level of participation and make it a habit.

To begin to establish healthy online habits, consider what commitment level you are likely to commit to and sustain. As I start back to resume my running, I am starting with one mile because I can easily repeat my one mile habit. Is it all I’d like to do? No. However, it is a place to start. If your commitment level is a starting one, you can always increase and expand. Could you commit to one blog post every two weeks? One post a week? Three tweets a day? Choose something do-able and repeatable.

Plan for time off. Creating a consistent presence online does not mean you have to be online constantly. Consistency is not constancy. I can’t run every day, and you don’t have to show up online every day. Breaks and rest will allow you to enjoy your habit and will restore your creativity and joy in connecting online.

Create conditions for success. What steps do you have to take to ensure that you will follow through with planned social media habits? In order to run early, I MUST set out my running clothes the night before. I can’t rummage around in the dark, crashing into things and waking up my family. If you must, schedule time to show up online on your calendar like any other appointment. Or, if you plan to blog regularly, create an editorial calendar to capture ideas so that when you sit down to write, you are ready with a plan.

The only way to be successful online is to be consistent: consistent in connecting, consistent in adding value, consistent in showing up. In order to be consistent, you must create habits. Your health and success online will increase as you habitually write, connect, and share.

Tell me something! What habits have you established in using social media tools? How do you stay consistent?

photo credit eccampbell