How to create habits and make them stick

How to create habits and make them stick

We explore the whole process to help you stick to a new habit.

Plan ahead

One of the main reasons why people fall at the first hurdle when trying to create a new habit is because they jump in at the deep end straight away, with no planning at all.

If we use running as an example, starting out running at full pace for 30 minutes is not going to happen. You will end up feeling tired, disheartened and wanting to quit.

Instead, you could spend a week or so planning your strategy (i.e. start off with a 10 minute jog, then after two weeks increase it to 15 minutes), which will increase the odds of success exponentially.

Small steps

Your first step could be to ease yourself into your new habit – this could simply mean spending five minutes a day on it. It may seem ridiculous as this is such a small amount of time, but giving yourself something so easy to complete will motivate you going forward.

Create a trigger

A trigger is something that you already do that can be attached to your new habit. Using the previous running example, as soon as you brush your teeth in the morning, this could be the trigger to get your running gear on and pop out for a 10 minute jog. This will help reinforce the new habit in your brain, it begins to see the new habit as part of an old one.

Reward yourself

Rewarding yourself is another way to cement your new habit. As soon as you complete the task, give yourself something you enjoy. This could be five minutes on a computer game, reading or enjoying a hot bubble bath.

Accountability

Quitting is so much easier when nobody is paying attention to your actions. Tell people about your plans to improve yourself and report to them about your daily or weekly success. Yes, this even means the times you failed!

This is easily done through social media, forums, blogs or even texting to a small group of friends.

Accountability provides a ‘no excuses’ insurance policy on your new habit.

Flexibility

There will be a number of setbacks and distractions on the road to creating a new habit, so plan ahead for them. What will you do if you get sick, get snowed under at work or if it starts pouring down outside? Creating a plan for situations like these will enable you to keep on track.

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Ross East

Written by Ross East

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