Good habits can dramatically improve your life. That’s because they are the things you do on a regular basis, like exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, and saving money. Bad habits, on the other hand, are usually negative behaviors that lead to unhappiness and stress.
A habit is an action you do automatically and repeatedly without thinking about it.
Here are some of the best ways to build healthy habits:
- Start small. Don’t try to overhaul your life overnight. Focus on one new change at a time, and make that change as easy as possible. If you’re trying to eat more vegetables, start with a single salad a week. If you want to exercise three times a week, start with one walk around the block per day. As you get used to the change, add another one.
The key is to make each habit easy enough that it doesn’t seem like a burden but hard enough that you actually notice when you’re not doing it.
- Break big goals into smaller ones. It’s easier to complete a long list of small tasks than it is to complete one large task. So, if your goal is to go from 5 minutes of exercise per day to 30 minutes per day, break that larger goal into five smaller tasks: two 10-minute walks and three five-minute walks. You’re more likely to see success by setting small goals that are doable every day than you are by taking on one long-term goal that takes all your willpower just to start working toward it.
Thing is, there’s no one right way to create a new habit. A successful strategy depends on your personality and lifestyle. Some people work better by keeping a daily journal of everything they do, others by employing a simple cue-routine-reward system or even with a detailed calendar plan. Others get things done with apps that remind them at certain times or through social media or text reminders sent to their phone. You can mix and match these techniques too — for example, you might use an app for 30 days as a way of helping you develop a new habit, then rely on your own self-motivation after that. Whatever method gets you moving toward your goal, however, the most important thing is that it works for you.