We’ve all been there…we set a new goal or create a new habit and then struggle greatly to keep it, even if we know that it’s incredibly important to us. Creating new habits and making them stick is a laudable, but sometimes challenging effort.
While the jury still seems to be out on exactly how long it takes a habit to form, there are definitely a few strategies that I’ve found to help make habits stick.
1. Start Small
Don’t make massive habitual changes to your day that completely alter how you currently operate. (A frequent error when it comes to New Years Resolutions.) Nobody can be expected to wake up one day and live their lives entirely differently.
It’s great to be motivated about your new habit, but it’s also important to be realistic. Instead of saying, “I’m going to run ten miles each day,” try starting with a goal of running for 20 or 30 minutes each day and build from there.
By beginning with a small, but reasonable habit, you are far more likely to stick to it.
Daily repetition of your habit is critical, especially during the first month, and also another great reason to start small.
Consistency is the key element of making a habit stick. By making time each day to practice your new habit, you are building a foundation of discipline that will soon become like auto-pilot.
3. Visual Motivation
Keep visual reminders of why you’re undertaking your new habit around you, both at work and at home.
These could be motivational phrases written on post-it notes, magazine ads taped to walls or pinned to bulletin boards, photos or other sources of inspiration.
Having visual cues to look at, especially when you’re extremely busy and thinking that you don’t have time to stick to your habit, can be subliminally motivating as well as spark the part of your brain that encourages you to stick to your goal.
4. Take It Day By Day
It’s critical to make sure that you are repeating your habit daily, especially in the first 30 days. You must approach it with a mindset that each day is extremely important and that you cannot “make up” for a day that you missed during this developmental period.
Plan to take it day by day, with keen awareness on the important element being “daily”. If your goal is the previously mentioned “Run 30 minutes a day” and you just cannot work that in due to circumstances beyond your control, at least run for 10 minutes.
Repetition is key and the first 30 days are the door that unlock the barriers to making your habit stick.
By harnessing these measures, you’ll be much more likely to create a new habit that sticks. Next month I’ll be sharing some additional ways to help you form lasting habits.