Creating (and sticking to) good habits is crucial to your success. Habits are things you do without thinking, like brushing your teeth or checking Facebook before bed. They’re the actions that become automatic, ingrained in you. What makes creating habits so difficult is that it requires changing our behavior. We’re creatures of habit (hence the name), and that means we like to stick to what’s comfortable and familiar. Creating new habits can feel like an uphill battle because we’re going against the grain in a way that’s uncomfortable at first—but this doesn’t have to be a struggle. Here are a few tips for making new habits stick:
How to create a new habit
- Start with a reward – For your first week, set a clear end goal and a single reward at the end of it. Make sure the reward is something you want and is worth the effort.
- Make the behavior easy to do. This might mean removing obstacles or planning ahead so you can do the behavior without thinking about it. For example, if you want to eat healthier but always seem to order fast food while driving, try taking healthier snacks with you when you go out for errands.
- Look for opportunities. You’ll have more success if you look for ways to make your new habit part of your everyday routine. For example, if you want to get in the habit of reading every day, make time for it at the same time every day. Choose a particular moment when you won’t be interrupted, like early in the morning or right before bedtime. If you don’t see an opportunity for this new behavior, create one by planning ahead or making small changes in your schedule.
- Start small. It’s easier to change your behavior in tiny increments rather than one big shift. Instead of saying, “I’m going to start working out every day,” say, “I’m going to work out two days this week.” Once you’ve done two days, add another one. Don’t try to make giant leaps from point A to point B—start with small steps and make them consistent until they become habit.