Is it possible to create healthy habits that last?
The answer is a definite “yes!”
But it demands effort and the understanding that the lifestyle you lead is built upon your habits. If those habits are destructive, such as procrastinating or partying on weeknights, they can completely derail your life.
Changing some or many of your habits can transform your life and make it happier and healthier. But it’s no easy feat. Case in point: the many failed New Year’s resolutions.
As you can see, it’s common to fail at creating new habits. One of the reasons being old habits die hard!
That is why you need a strategy going in.
We’ve got you covered on that front with expert secrets to building a habit list that sticks.
1. Make Your Goal Realistic
By setting a realistic goal, we mean a setting goal that is achievable according to your perspective — not other people’s.
Let’s say you want a healthy and athletic body. Putting in three hours in the gym every single day may not be a realistic goal if you’re employed, running a business, or looking after kids.
Many times people fail because they didn’t make a correct estimate of their abilities and circumstances — not because the goal was unachievable in a general sense.
To ensure your new habit list is realistic for you, plan and work around your strengths, weaknesses, and lifestyle.
Here’s a scientific approach to setting a goal that has a high chance of success, according to Positivepsychology.com:
- Clarity: the goal should be clear and specific enough to encourage commitment.
- Challenging: when the goal is challenging it pushes and motivates you to work towards it.
- Commitment: your level of commitment to the goal is vital to its realization.
- Feedback: this helps you track your progress and see what’s working and what isn’t.
- Task Complexity: the complexity of your goal determines how you work towards it.
2. Break Your Goal Into Mini-Goals
The bigger the challenge, the harder it’ll be to overcome it without a proper tactic. Don’t try to bring the wall down all at once. Try chipping at it instead.
Now that you can visualize your ultimate goal and you’ve made sure it’s attainable, divide it into small manageable goals.
Smaller goals that make up a bigger picture are a lot easier to complete compared to a goal that has not been broken down.
Take smaller steps, one at a time as they are not overwhelming and will still get you to where you want to be.
Let’s say you want to lose weight, and as part of your new habit list, you want to run every morning. If your ideal distance is three miles, you may want to start with one and increase it gradually as your body gets used to the exercise.
3. Repeat! Repeat! Repeat!
This is it! The backbone of a habit.
Remember, habits are born out of repetition. Just as you build bad habits by repeating them over and over, you can also build good habits.
You could argue that in the case of bad habits, they are powered by gratification which may be missing when it comes to building healthy habits.
While that is true, new scientific data suggests that repeatedly doing an action plays a much bigger role in creating a habit.
Your job is to take the action you want to turn into a habit and turn it into a daily routine and it’ll stick. It won’t be easy at first but it gets easier as your mind and body adapt to it.
4. Acknowledge The Milestones
Humans are wired to hit great heights through motivation. Without it, we can’t accomplish even the smallest tasks.
You want good grades in school, you have to find the motivation to study and tap into it every time you experience resistance.
The same applies to building a habit list, you have to stay motivated all the way through. One of the ways to do that is to acknowledge the milestones you hit.
Treat your milestones as mini achievements that lead up to the big reward. You don’t want to be so hard on yourself that you’re not enjoying the process. Keep in mind that the journey is just as important as the destination.
When you acknowledge the milestones, however small they are, you’re telling yourself that what you’re doing is working and that it’s getting you closer to success.
5. Avoid Fallback Plans
As you’re building a healthy habit list, your goal is to make your life better than it is, doing things that make you happy.
The idea is to not settle for anything less than what you want, which means total commitment to your main plan. It’s not wise to distract yourself with backup plans.
Like Arnold Schwarzenegger said, you have to make Plan A work because once you start doubting yourself and creating fallback plans, you’re taking away the energy from plan A to build plan B.
For instance, you know the only thing that’ll make you happy in life is to quit your 9–5 and start your own business. Then you decide on a fallback plan to work on your business part-time and get a job if things don’t go well within a certain timeframe.
Your fallback plan may be a good idea, but it also means you’re not confident in your abilities. It creates doubts and uncertainty that block your path to success and self-satisfaction.
Say the above example applies to you — the habit of creating fallback plans could set you back years from realizing your goal and doing what makes you happy.
Ready to create life-changing habits for a happier and healthier life?
Then just get started. Take our tips, improve on them, and come up with a strategy that works for you.
Remember, the easier your habit list is, the better. Change doesn’t have to be hard. If it’s challenging, make it fun so that you can easily stick to it.
And like we said, habits are born out of repetition.
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