How to make new habits stick

Making a New Year’s resolution or new habit stick can sometimes be challenging and it’s tempting to throw the towel in at the slightest setback.

However, creating good, new habits and/or getting rid of bad, old ones can make a real difference to your life. Even the smallest change can make a big difference.

When it comes to habits, what works for one person may not work for someone else. For example, getting up to go to the gym at 6am may be great for some, but a nightmare for others.

It’s about finding habits that work for you and fit your individual personality and situation – and then making them stick.
Image: Canva

Here are ten top tips to help make new habits stick:

1. Pick your new habit

It may seem obvious but picking your new habit or habits is the first thing you need to do. Be specific about what you want to do. For example, saying “I want to get fit” is great but be specific, eg, “I’m going to the gym three times a week”.

2. Know your why

Know why you want to form a new habit. Knowing your “why” will help you stick to your habit, stay motivated and reinforce its importance. For example, “I’m joining the gym because my doctor said I’m at risk of developing heart disease if I don’t start exercising”.

3. Be realistic

Be realistic about your new habit. Start small and build up otherwise you may set yourself up for disappointment. If you want to meditate for an hour every day, start small (just a few minutes each day) and build up over time.

4. Write it down

Writing your resolutions or new habits down helps make them stick, keeps you accountable and you have a written record to check back on.

5. Make it regular

Forming new habits takes time and the more you do something the more likely it is to become a normal part of your life. So, make sure you do your new habit regularly and schedule it in so you are more likely to stick to it.

6. Be prepared for setbacks

Everyone experiences setbacks or unexpected events that can derail the best laid plans. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up – just re-set, stay on track and don’t give up!

7. Measure your progress

Measuring your progress gives you a real sense of achievement, so make sure you’re keeping track of what you’re doing. If you take up running, time yourself when you first start out and check your progress a few weeks later.

8. Be prepared

Make it easy to stick to a new habit by thinking ahead and being prepared. For example, if you start swimming in the mornings before work, have everything packed the night before so it’s easy to grab your gear and leave the house.

9. Pair it up

Pairing up a new habit with something you already enjoy can make it easier for your new habit to stick. If you already love listening to music or podcasts, then pop some headphones in while doing a new habit such as going for a walk in the evening. Image: Canva

10. Know your triggers

Think about the kinds of things that may make it hard for you to stick to your new habit and watch out for them. For example, if you’re trying to give up sweet treats, then don’t walk past the bakery or go near the sweet aisle in the supermarket.

References

  1. Habit sticks All Right?, NZ
  2. Ten tips to make a new habit stick All Right?, NZ