Trying Something New? 5 Ways to Make a Habit Stick
Change is in the air and it’s starting with you. A new year is almost upon us. You’ve decided to start making time to make a change in your life, and you've got a goal in mind. The question is, how can you ensure that you achieve success? Read below to find out five things that you must do in order to ensure successful habit formation.
Very few successful things happen by accident. They’re created by design. Having a plan increases the chance of your new habit being successful. Think of the plan like a road map, it’ll help you get from point A to point B (hopefully without a lot of rest stops in between). Include your starting point, the final goal and all the steps along the way. It’s important when you’re creating your plan to include any potential stumbling blocks and how you will overcome them so that they don’t stop you from making your new habit stick.
If you’re like me, you’re a visual person and may find it helpful to have your plan be less text based and more visual. Two different ways to do this would be by creating a mind map or a vision board. Mind maps allow you to see at a glance all of your thoughts, plans or ideas around a particular topic, while a vision board uses images and/or words about the things that you wish to see take place in the future. While they’re different, both are great ways to help you envision your goal. Whichever one you decide to create, put it someplace where it’s seen regularly so that it can reinforce the goal you want to achieve.
When it comes to creating your new habit, commitment is key. If you’re not committed, the chances of attaining it reduce dramatically. It’s important to believe that you will create your new habit and to be able to see yourself doing it. This is where focus comes into play.
You activate your focus by writing down a positive statement that affirms the new habit you’ve created.
For example, if you want to create the success habit of waking early then you could write, 'I wake at 5:00 am every day refreshed and ready to start my day. I use my extra time to exercise for 30 minutes and to eat a healthy breakfast. Before I start my work, I make sure that I plan my day and make sure that I know which tasks are important for helping me to achieve my goals.’
Then place the affirmation someplace where you will see it everyday and look at it as often as you can during your day. Consider having multiple copies – One in your bedroom, maybe one on your bathroom mirror, one for your wallet or purse and you can even make your screen saver into your affirmation.
Self-knowledge is crucial to creating new habits, as well as eliminating old ones. This means knowing and understanding both your strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to know where you are right now, where you want to be and what needs to change (remember the roadmap).
This information can help you to create a growth mind-set. Because with action you create change which leads to success. And you’re able to more easily deal with whatever stumbling blocks life throws your way.
In knowing your strengths and most especially your weaknesses, you’re able to create a plan to help you deal with the days that those weaknesses (as they relate to the habit you’re forming) are on full display.
Habits take approximately 2-3 months to become routine. So, it’s important that when you’re starting a new habit, you make time every day to practice your new habit.
This is where your plan becomes important. Refer to it often, in particular the section where you identified any potential stumbling points that might cause you to want to skip a day. Knowing ahead of time what might interfere in your daily habit practice ensures that you can be strong and follow your plans to overcome it.
Positive mind-set is key as is commitment. If you are committed to creating your new successful habit and understand why it is important to your overall plans and goals then you’ll have an easier time overcoming any stumbling points and ensure that you practice your new habit every day until it becomes a routine part of your daily life. One way of making it quite easy to see your progress in making your new habit stick is by using a habit tracker. Habit trackers allow you to mark off each day that you complete the habit of your choosing which provides some of the motivation that you need to succeed.
This is one of my favorite parts of the whole process! When you first set out to create a new habit, you planned how you were going to achieve it and created a vision of what your life would look like once it happened. It’s also important to build in a reward. Something that you really want and value. It doesn't have to be big, but it does have to be important to you. Adding a reward to your plan can motivate you by helping you become more emotionally invested in creating the habit.
Write down your reward or have a picture of it on your vision board and put it someplace where you’ll see it every day. This will reinforce your desire to succeed and strengthen your motivation to achieve your goal. For instance, when I wanted to increase my creativity practice, because I believe that creativity is a form of self-care, I set a goal to practice my papercrafting for at least 30 minutes a day for an entire month and at the end of that month, I rewarded myself with some beautiful scrapbook paper.
These five rules will help you create a positive mental attitude and make it easier for your new success habit to stick. It’s important not to try creating too many new habits at once as you might become overwhelmed and not create any at all. It’s much simpler and more realistic to create one new habit at a time.
Which of these steps do you think will help you the most in creating your new habit? Let me know in the comments section.
Cover photo by freepik
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In