If you’re a goal-oriented person, you have likely set out to improve your habits at some point. Whether you want to eat healthier, increase your productivity, stick to a fitness routine, or simply keep a meditation practice – you’ll need to make those habits stick if you want to get the positive effects.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to try incorporating new habits, only to have them fall by the wayside a week later. Making positive habits stick is easier than it seems, it just takes planning and a bit of focus. Here are five helpful tips to make those good habits stick for the long haul.
Implement One New Habit at a Time
Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried to overhaul all of your habits at once. I know I’m guilty of this one. It can be so easy to try to improve all of our habits at the same time, but it can be discouraging to keep going when slip-ups happen. For lasting success, choose one habit to work on at a time, and tackle the next only after you have truly mastered the first one.
Know Your Why
It’s also really important to establish why you want to stick to your new habit. Is this habit important to you? Will it improve your overall quality of life? Is it something you truly want to do, or are you only doing it because other people say you “should”? You want to get crystal clear on the answers to these questions to understand your “why”. If you have a strong “why” you are more likely to stick to your habit because you are invested in the outcome.
Take Baby Steps
The expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day” definitely applies to implementing positive habits. Chances are, it has taken you years to form the habits you have now, so it’s going to be really hard to completely overhaul them in a day. Set up incremental steps to help you establish your new habit instead of trying to jump in all at once. For example, if you want to establish the habit of getting a workout in first thing in the morning, you might set the following baby steps over the course of several weeks:
Week 1: Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier each day
Week 2: Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier each day, and stretch
Week 3: Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier each day, and do a quick home workout
Setting up incremental changes makes this new habit far easier to stick to than trying to introduce a completely new behavior into your routine.
Set Up Triggers
Have you ever had the best of intentions with sticking to a new habit, but have a hard time actually remembering to follow through? It happens to the best of us. When establishing a new habit it is really important to set up triggers to remind you to follow through or to make it easier for you to actually stick to your new routine. For example, having your gym bag packed and sitting next to the door could be a good trigger to help you remember to get your workout in. Or having your floss sitting on your counter next to your toothbrush instead of in a drawer or in your medicine cabinet will help you remember to actually use it.
Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to treat yourself! Giving yourself mini rewards (preferably not food-related) for reaching incremental goals is a great way to stay motivated to stick to a new habit. A little positive reinforcement goes a long way.1