Creating new habits isn’t easy. Here are six simple hacks that will make it a little easier. Use them until you’ve internalized the new habit and don’t need them anymore. There are studies that suggest a length of time for habits to stick, but I find it ends up being different for everyone and even different depending on the habit. Obviously it will take a different amount of time to stop smoking, or biting your nails verses drinking more water.
Schedule It And Put It On The To-Do List
Sometimes we forget to do that new thing we were trying. This is especially true for me, because if it's not on my list, it's likely not going to get done and I'll remember it in bed at night while I'm creating my list for the following day!
Schedule your new habits or make them part of your daily to-do list until they become something you do automatically. If you are a physical planner person, write it down as an appointment for a particular time. Alternately, use your Google calendar to make the appointment and set a reminder for it so that you receive a notification.
Make It Public and Be Accountable
Let family and friends know what new habits you’re trying to establish. They will call you out if you don’t stick to your plan and get you back on track. Trust me, they will be more than happy to remind you at dinner that you said you were only having 1 glass of wine.
You may even go as far as sharing it publicly on Facebook or write a blog about your new journey. Knowing that others read it and know about it might be just enough to keep you going when you feel like throwing in the towel. The key is to be consistent. If you fall off the wagon, so to speak, and don't have enough readers or people following that will call you out on it, doing it this way may not matter.
Tell your Facebook friends to check in on you weekly to make sure you are living up to your posts.
Piggyback On A Habit You Already Have
Whenever possible, add the new habit to one you already have. For example, if you fix a cup of tea or coffee at 4pm, and you want to get in the habit of taking a daily walk, make the new ritual to go for your walk and then come back and enjoy your tea.
It’s much easier to amend an existing habit or ritual than creating an entirely new one.
Make Slip-ups Costly
Here’s a fun idea. Put a jar on the kitchen counter and each time you slip back into your bad habit or forget to stick to the new one you have to put five dollars in the jar. It will quickly help you remember to skip that sugary food and motivate you to go out for that walk. Of course if you live alone or don't tell anyone about this, then you can easily keep writing yourself "IOUs" which in the end will defeat the whole purpose.
You have to commit to following the rules you set for yourself. For extra motivation donate the money to charity at the end of the month or hand it over to your spouse to go spend on him or herself. I'm sure if they have an incentive thrown in, they will happily call you out for it.
Find A Partner and Help Each Other Along
Find someone with the same or similar goal. This could be a workout partner or a diet buddy. Keep tabs on each other and encourage each other to keep going. It’s much harder to skip a walk if you know someone else is depending on you being there. You can also schedule times to check-in with someone, even if they aren't tracking the same habit as you. A friend, spouse, or a coach are good examples.
Make It A Group Challenge
If one accountability partner is good, a whole group is even better! And they don’t even need to be local. Find a supportive group online and challenge each other to stick to your new habit for the next 30 days or so. Not wanting to be the first one to give up will keep all of you going until you establish that new habit. Check out the apps I mentioned above as group challenges are an option.
Give these simple little hacks a try. Keep using the ones that you find helpful until you have made new habits you can stick with without the help of any tools or support.
So what habits are the hardest for you to start or quit? Let me know in the comments!