5 Steps to Make a Habit Stick

It would take hours to list all the hobbies, goals, and plans I have made with really great intentions, only to find myself back to my old ways within a few months with nothing to show for all my good intentions. How is it that some people seem to stick to their plans to better themselves, while others tend to lose steam early on? I have looked for some commonalities and tips that make succeeding easier. There are tons of scientific studies and more involved steps for creating new habits, but I have condensed it to five of the easier steps with the most positive outcomes.

  1. Do it everyday for at least 30 days. A few years ago, I was trying to get back in shape after having my 3rd child. I was having a hard time finding time, energy, or motivation to exercise on a routine basis. Then I came across a blog post by Steve Pavlina entitled “30 Days To Success“. Try a new habit for 30 days. The biggest rule is that if you take a day off, start back over the next day at Day 1. This helps to solidify the habit. The day after reading his post, I started my fitness journey. I have barely taken a day off in years. One of the reasons it was successful was step #2.
  2. Start small. Set realistic goals. When I started my 30 day habit of exercising, I started with 20 minutes each day of any physical activity. Walking my dog counted. Doing sit ups and thigh raises while watching The Walking Dead counted. The small amount of time I needed to invest coupled with the easy level of exertion made it an easier habit to keep. Had I decided to work out an hour per day, there is a good chance I would still be trying to start my fitness regimen. Now, I run, lift weights, and do tons of other activities everyday for the fun of it.
  3. Implement one habit at a time. Don’t try to change your whole life overnight. Once the initial excitement wears off, it can be quite tiring to keep up a ton of new habits.
  4. Know the why. Why do you want to achieve this habit? What makes it important to you? How will your life be better? Visualize how you will feel once you have achieved your goal. Bring up the visualization when you feel like quitting or taking a day off. Visualization can be a powerful tool for sticking to your goals. Use it often to stay on track.
  5. Use a habit tracker. There are plenty of habit tracker apps to choose from. Take a look and try out a few until you find the one that fits for you. I prefer an old school planner. I picked this one and was not disappointed. I am able to keep up with my habits as well as set goals and timelines. Any type of tracker helps hold you accountable. I love being able to check the box when I am done.

So, I shared with you the steps that helped me successfully make exercise a daily activity in my life. Now, I will use them to create another habit and let you know the outcome. Stay tuned.