Adopting new habits is hard – we’re creatures of habit, after all, and programmed to crave routine. But there are a few things we can do to make adopting new habits easier, and more importantly, ensure they stick.
1. Take baby steps
First, we need to make change easier on ourselves by breaking a new, desired habit up into smaller segments. Behavioral change doesn’t happen overnight, and jumping right into something new right off the bat can cause shock and resistance rather than acceptance. Instead, prepare your body and mind to accept a new habit as the norm by making small changes over time. Let’s say your goal is to start working out for one hour a day, five days a week, making daily exercise a habit rather than something you may now begrudgingly do. Make this change less daunting by beginning with easier, more enjoyable workouts for a short period of time, slowly building up the challenge and time commitment each day until the the exertion becomes just another part of your day. It will take time and patience, but starting small and slowly making a change will ensure the habit will stick.
2. Make it known
Whatever habit you’re hoping to adopt, make it known: share it with loved ones, post it to the public, say it aloud or write it down for yourself. Simply put it out into the universe so that it will begin to manifest for you. Sharing a desired new habit holds you accountable, and it also makes it feel much less scary to adopt. Sometimes, our fears or challenges seem much greater in our heads, but when we vocalize and write out our goals, we break down that mental barrier holding us back from taking the first step toward improvement. Put your intended new habit out into the world and make it a reality rather than just a thought. If choosing to vocalize your intention, say it aloud frequently to remind yourself of the change you’re hoping to make. If you prefer to write it out, you can do so each day or you can write it down once and place it in a visible location so that your goal stays top of mind.
This step goes hand-in-hand with making your habit goals known. When sharing with family, friends, or the public, you open yourself up to a shared experience. In turn, you receive shoulders to lean on for support, encouraging words, and oftentimes, others to make positive changes with. We’re all seeking to improve ourselves in one way or another. Encourage your family to join you in adopting a positive new habit and use it as a bonding experience, or maybe find a community of individuals who are on the same self-improvement journey as you through social media or a local meet-up. Although we’re all on our own individual improvement journeys, nothing feels better than becoming our best together.4. Connect with your “why”
It is 100x easier to stick to a new habit if there is solid motivation behind it. There’s a reason you have the desire to make a change in the first place, so really hone in on that reason, dissect it, and figure out what the true motivating factor behind it is. The easiest habits to adopt are the ones that come from internal motivation (ourselves) rather than external (the pressure or influence or others). These habits are the longest lasting, as you’re doing them for YOU and you alone. Once you discover your “why,” use it as fuel to drive you in taking those small steps towards change. Refer to it when roadblocks get in the way and lean on it for a confidence boost whenever self doubt creeps in. It is difficult to make lasting change if we don’t truly want to do it, but both strength and determination can be found in remaining true to yourself, your wants, and your needs.
Building a new habit can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Take the steps to make it easier on yourself, and set yourself up for true, lasting success.