5 ways to… make new habits stick

5 ways to… make new habits stick

A new year always brings a fresh focus to how we can self-improve. 60% of us plan to make a new year’s resolution, and 40% of us follow that through. If your goals are far reaching, vague, or you haven’t set-up the right landscape, it’s no wonder you’re unable to make them stick. There are some proven tips from psychology that will help you get to where you want to be.

1. Hitch a ride.

The best way to make a new habit stick is by integrating it into your daily routine and piggy backing onto existing habits. Add a new link and slot it into an integrated chain of familiar habits – for example add ‘flossing’ after you’ve brushed your teeth and before rinsing your mouth.

2. Embrace the fresh start.

We’re all familiar with pursuing goals with more gust at the start of every New Year. The fresh-start effect hinges on the idea that we don’t feel as perfect about our past as we’d like. But by creating a clean slate and learning from past failures, we feel more capable and driven. Now’s the right time to start forming new habits, so make the most of it.

3. Make specific ‘if-then’ rules.

New Year’s plans are often vague; like ‘I’ll be a better person’ or ‘I’ll get fit’. While these overall aims are fine, making really specific plans that link triggers with actions is far more effective – for example, saying “if I feel my stomach rumbling between meals, then I’ll eat an apple”. When repeated, these action rules increase the likelihood you’ll achieve your goals.

4. Put pen to paper.

People often have trouble engaging in behaviours such as exercising and getting a vaccination, because their benefits have a delay. Creating a plan, and writing it down, can reduce the likelihood of procrastination and forgetfulness. Plans require people to form a link between anticipated future moments (a given date and time) and specific actions required to attain their goal.

5. For big results, think small steps.

The classic mistake people make is to bite off more than they can chew. Take small steps. For example, don’t completely change your diet; just see if you can switch your morning snack from a cookie to an apple. In the beginning, performance doesn’t matter; just do it.

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