5 Ways to Make New Habits Stick
It's that time of year where we are thinking about New Year's resolutions. We all know that it is much easier to set resolutions than to stick to them. We get so comfortable with what we are used to that forming new habits can be uncomfortable, but we don’t grow as individuals by staying comfortable. Forming new habits, whether they be health related, goal-oriented or just for fun can sound hard at first, but these 5 simple steps will help you get started and excel in making your new habits stick!
Start Simple. Forming new habits is generally based around bettering your life in one way or another, so it is important to create a concrete goal and focus on something that is attainable and sustainable for you to follow. SMART goals are a great method to use when forming new habits. If you change major parts of your life on a whim, or try to form too many new habits at once, you may find yourself overwhelmed or discouraged. By starting with a one small and simple new habit, you can focus on mastering that change and build up from there. Even small progress is great progress, so it is OK to build your way up to the bigger goal and life changes you are reaching towards over time. With this, make sure each step is tailored to YOU. Just because one method may have worked for someone else, does not mean that has to be the way you do it. Find what suits your life best and run with it.
Consistency is Key. Forming new habits does not come easy, especially without some sort of sacrifice. If you are forming a new habit, the end goal is likely worth the challenges that may come. It is easy to fall back into old ways, especially after only following new habits for a short period of time. Remember that these setbacks are not final - you can always get started back on your goals. It may be helpful to remind yourself daily of the reason why you are trying to form new habits. You could set a reminder on your phone, post a note somewhere you will see it (i.e., your bedside, bathroom mirror or refrigerator), or start each day with a mantra of your goals. Keeping the "why" at the forefront will often times help drive the motivation to keep going.
Failing to Prepare = Preparing to Fail. Planning ahead will help you to stay one step ahead of your goals and allow you to easily follow through with sticking to new habits. Being aware of the excuses that may come up around sticking to your goals will allow you to better combat them when they do pop up and strive toward success. For example, if your new habit is to cut back on soda, keep a water bottle or a beverage you find to be a good replacement to soda on hand for when you feel those cravings come on.
Celebrate the wins and the losses . It’s easy to recognize and celebrate the wins, but it is important to allow yourself some grace when the losses occur as well. We are human and mistakes are bound to happen. Dwelling on these slip ups will only push you down further. Instead, accept that the mistake happened and move on. Take the loss as a lesson of growth and learn from it so you may prevent it from happening again. We learn best from picking ourselves up after a failure or loss. Overcoming the loss helps you learn a new way of navigating through the challenges that arise when sticking to new habits. Celebrate your ability to overcome these losses and keep pushing forward!
Track Your Progress. What gets measured, gets managed. Measuring or tracking progress towards your goals and habits not only holds you accountable to be consistent, but it is data that helps you see the progress you've made. Whether it is tracking the amount of consecutive days you stuck to the changes, or logging numerical data of sorts that come with sticking to these new habits (for example, keeping track of minutes walked when working towards an exercise goal) you can easily see that the new habits you are forming while you are getting you closer to your goal!
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Written By: Gina Maioriello, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern