How often have you began a new diet or workout routine with the best intentions, only to give up a few weeks or months later? Making changes that become permanent habits can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips to help make your new habits stick.
Set Your Intention
Choose one goal you want to achieve and write it down. Is it making time to exercise? Stop smoking? Walking away from your afternoon snack at the office? Whatever it is, ask yourself what are the necessary steps for you to accomplish your goal and establish a new habit that replaces the old one.
Make sure it is something you can incorporate in your daily schedule no matter what. Why? Forming new habits takes time. In fact, researchers tell us that it takes 66 days on average to establish a new routine.
Identify the Roadblocks
Look at past behaviors that prevent you from changing.
If you can identify the cues that drive a bad habit and change it to the one you want, you’ve done half the work. For example, I was checking social media far too often during my work day. I found that everytime I dealt with an issue that triggered my anxiety, I switched my screen to Instagram or TikTok. Once I understood the trigger, I disabled my social media on both my computer and phone. At first it was difficult to not check them, but with time, it became easier.
However, if you don’t identify the cue for the old habit, no matter how strong your willpower, you will fall into your old ways again.
Trying to make too many changes at once is a recipe for disaster. You’re more likely to become overwhelmed. Focus on one thing you want to tackle instead of trying to overhaul your entire life. Once you identify the habit you want to change, experiment with what you can replace it with. Start with one or two small changes and build from there.
Set Realistic Goals
Most people give up their new goals because they are unrealistic. For instance, if you’re trying to stop smoking, stop drinking and incorporate a healthier lifestyle all at once, it will be incredibly difficult. Again focus on one goal and ask yourself what is your catalyst for change? How can you change one thing in your daily routine that will help you attain this goal?
Find a Support System
Making new habits is easier when you have a supportive network helping you. Find friends or family members who are also trying to make similar changes and support each other through the process.
By having someone to check in with regularly will help you stay motivated. They also may be able to identify the cues that make your old habit difficult to break.
Online support groups and forums are also helpful.
Make a Plan
If you want to be successful in making a new habit stick, you need a plan. This means knowing exactly what you need to do to make the change and putting that plan into action; without a plan, it’s easy to get sidetracked or forget about your goals.
Remember, making new habits stick takes time and effort. But if you start small, set realistic goals, and find a supportive network, you’ll be well on your way to success.