5 Tips for Creating Habits That Stick
Updated: May 6, 2021
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to stick to a new positive habit long enough for it to become a natural part of what you do? Bad habits stick around like gorilla glue, but trying to keep up with a positive habit is like trying to walk through Target without buying anything - nearly impossible!
I mean we all know what is good for us and what isn’t. I mean we know we should exercise, eat right, get 8 hours of sleep, drink our water, and stop looking at our cell phones two hours before bed right? But binge watching Netflix for hours, while eating a bag of chips, and scrolling Facebook is so much more tempting!
It requires little to no effort on our part, and our brains LOVE the path of least resistance. It’s why most people don't stick with positive habits for longer than a few weeks. It’s the main reason why people procrastinate, buy stuff they don’t need and get in debt, and are surrounded by clutter.
And when you are a busy, ambitious woman - creating new habits can be even more difficult. Adding yet ANOTHER thing to your ever ending to do list sounds just as pleasant as getting a root canal.
The desire to live an amazing life that we all share in common. Who doesn’t want to feel healthy, have fulfilling relationships, have a career they love and be financially free?
When you learn how to stick with a habit, all of those things are possible and within reach for you.
So how do you create habits that actually stick around for longer than it takes to get through the extremely efficient Chick-fil-A drive thru - let me give you a few tips!
The Most Important Part
Before we even get into the 5 actions for creating a new habit, let’s address the most important part of the whole process - changing your MINDSET!
If you set out to start a new habit and stick to it, but you have negative thoughts right out of the gate, you’re going to make the process more difficult than it already is.
Before you even start, ask yourself a few questions:
Why do I want to start this new habit?
What will be the long term benefits of me sticking with this habit?
What will be the long term negative effects of me NOT sticking with this habit?
Answering these questions will give your brain a reason to exert the extra effort that it will take to make your new habit stick.
Now, think about how you will FEEL once this habit is a part of your natural daily routine. Maybe you will feel calm once you start your day meditating and praying. You might feel confident or strong once you establish a regular exercise routine. Or maybe you will feel accomplished when you create a habit of saving your money and building a nice savings for yourself.
Whatever you think you are going to feel when the habit is solid, start practicing feeling that way in the present.
The way to feel on purpose, is to think on purpose.
Your thoughts create your feelings. When you have a thought, it causes you to feel something.
This is an ESSENTIAL step to creating habits that will stick.
Choose to think about things that make you feel the way you think you will feel with your new habit on purpose.
This is your daily work. It won’t happen if you just passively sit back and wait for your new habit to form. This is work that must be done on purpose.
Now let’s talk about some ways that you can start creating a habit that sticks!
Creating Habits That Stick
Pick ONE habit to start with.
I know you are tempted to change your whole life in one day, but exert a little patience here. The reason this is important is because most people do not consider the amount of focus and effort it will take for them to actually stick to a habit. If you pile on the new habits your brain is going to go into freak out mode. It feels unsafe for you to venture out of every comfort you know to your brain, and it will go into protection mode. That means your brain will work overtime to get you to come back to your senses and eat Oreos instead of that kale you have wilting in the back of the fridge! Choosing one habit at a time will allow you to focus on one thing at a time without becoming overwhelmed or sabotaging yourself.
This may seem obvious, but when it comes to creating a new habit, it isn’t. You can plan all day long - writing out your budget, researching recipes, searching for just the right place to meditate every morning, and never actually DO anything. Planning excessively makes you FEEL like you are moving in the right direction and being productive, when the reality is all you have done is think about what you’re going to do without actually doing it.
Don’t be extra...start small.
The tendency for most of us is to “go big or go home” in most aspects of life. This is not a good mantra to follow when you are trying to really solidify a new goal as a part of your daily routine. Remember, you are not racing here. Start with a small goal that focuses more on the practice and routine of completing the goal than it does the end result. For instance - if you want to create a habit of exercising daily, don’t go out and try to run a half marathon on day 1. This is a recipe for disaster, and a set up for failure ultimately. If exercising daily is your goal - start with walking or jogging for 20 minutes first. You can gradually add to the time and intensity, but the important part is getting yourself into the habit of showing up every single day to instill the habit.
Get an accountability partner.
There is no shame in getting someone to have your back in this process. Having someone to be accountable to will tremendously increase the odds of you sticking to your new habit. Tell at least one person the reason you want to start the new habit, and ask them to hold you accountable to doing so. Now, don’t choose someone who is going to be lax in their job, overly judgemental or critical, or secretly sabotaging your efforts. Choose someone that has your best interest at heart, and really wants to see you be the best version of yourself.
Celebrate the small wins.
You don’t have to wait 21 days, or however long they say it takes to start a new habit before you allow yourself to feel good about what you’re doing. Create small benchmarks for yourself throughout the process, and plan small rewards (that don’t sabotage your efforts) when you hit milestones. You can celebrate by spending time reading your favorite book, taking an extra long bath, or buying yourself a new outfit for example. It doesn’t have to be big, and it doesn’t have to cost money. The most important part is acknowledging that you are moving in the right direction. Our brains love to be rewarded, so by celebrating your growth, it is encouragement to keep on going.
All of your biggest accomplishments and dreams are on the other side of you learning to consistently create and maintain good habits. Once you have gotten this process down, you can begin to repeat it in other areas. Eventually, you will begin to see your whole life transform. You will feel more confident about yourself, and be operating as the best and highest version of you!