How To Build Habits That Stick
“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.” ―Stephen Covey
Does all this talk about goal-setting and resolution-making have you a bit confused? Same. So we decided to take a closer look at the best ways to make meaningful changes in your life.
Motivational gurus (and boy, there are a lot of them!) say goals are outcome-focused aspirations you set for yourself, big or small.
While we initially set goals to achieve success, they don’t create the behaviors we need to get there. We’re not hating on goals. However, action-based habits are far better investments to focus on when shooting for success.
You see, habits are forever. And with luck, the right ones stay with you for life. They not only help you reach your goals, but they improve your chances of sustaining your success.
But we see you out there asking: ‘why is it so dang hard to form a new healthy habit?’ Behavioral scientists say we’re going about the wrong way.
For instance, you make a dramatic resolution to lose X amount of weight without taking the steps needed to reach your goal.
Keep reading because we have some research-based tips for …
Forming healthy habits that will stick!
Stack your habits. The best way to form a new habit is to tie it to an existing habit, according to a New York Times article. Scope out patterns in your day and think about how you can use existing habits to create new, positive ones. Toying with a meditation practice? For instance, your daily morning cup of coffee can be an excellent opportunity to add a new one-minute meditation practice.
Link it to something pleasurable. Are binge-worthy true crime podcasts a guilty pleasure? How about you only listen to them when riding the stationary bike at the gym? Then you’ll always link that new gym habit to something pleasurable.
Start small. In the New York Times article, B.J. Fogg, a Stanford University researcher and author of the book “Tiny Habits,” notes that big behavior changes require a high level of motivation that often can’t be sustained. Commit to a short daily walk if you want to begin an exercise habit.
Do it every day. We know it sounds like a no-brainer but it’s super important. British researchers studied how folks form habits by asking them to choose one simple habit they wanted to form, like taking a walk before dinner. The study, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, showed that it takes between 18 and 254 days to solidify a habit and make it automatic. The median time was 66 days!
- Make it easy. The classic example of this is to pack your gym bag the night before so you can’t talk yourself out of that morning workout. Dr. Wendy Wood, author of the book, “Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick,” calls the forces that get in the way of good habits “friction.”
Forming a new habit is challenging, so for crying out loud be kind and patient with yourself. Check-in with yourself occasionally. Perhaps the specifics of your new habit need to be re-examined. And finally, stay nimble because life is full of twists and turns that can threaten your success.
Looking for tools to help you fine-tune your goals, identify the habits you need to achieve them, and even tools for tracking those habits and your progress? Be sure to download our Goal Setting & Habit Tracking Ebook by entering your email in the form below.
For more info on goal setting, check out our website here.