How to Create Habits in Your Life That Stick

It’s “new year, new you” right? Every time there’s a new year or a transformation in our lives, we seek out a way to make positive changes

Photo: Unsplash/@drew_beamer

Photo: Unsplash/@drew_beamer

It’s “new year, new you” right? Every time there’s a new year or a transformation in our lives, we seek out a way to make positive changes.

This is why resolutions during the new year are so popular yet if you asked most people who set resolutions they tend to come up short. It’s not that resolutions are bad or ineffective. We tend to focus on the outcome more than journey or process itself. For example, “I am going to workout more” is a common resolution for the new year, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?

When changing a habit, it can take anywhere from 28-60 days, depending on who you ask. Consistency is key for making a habit stick and this is the not-so-glamorous side of new year resolutions.

So how does one create habits that have staying power?

Goals and habits are not that different from one another. They both represent aspirations and a journey towards reaching point B. If you want create habits that stick, approach your habits using a S.M.A.R.T. technique, but first let’s switch out words in the acronym.

For the sake of habits, S.M.A.R.T. becomes Simple, Meaningful, Aligned, Reasonable, and Teachable.

How simple is your habit?

“I am going to workout more” is not simple, nor is it specific. Instead try “I am going to spend 30 minutes of cardio 3x a week.” Habits that don’t require much change have a better chance of sticking.

How meaningful is your habit?

What does working out mean to you? Anytime you decide to change a habit, dig deep and ask yourself “WHY?” Is working out tied to losing weight? Getting fit? Building muscle? A form of stress release? Create habits that mean something to you so that you have an emotional connection to making them stick.

How aligned is the habit to your lifestyle?

How do you want to work out and do you have the means to do it over an extended period of time? Are you close to a gym? If you are working out at home, do you have the space? Do you want to pick up jogging and if so, are you willing to do it in 20 degree weather? Create habits that can easily integrate into your lifestyle so that you can be consistent with them.

How reasonable is your habit?

Working out can come in many forms. Are you signing up for that expensive gym membership when you can do Pilates down the block? Do you have a bunch of other commitments that would get in the way of working out? Create habits that are realistic to what you’re able and willing to commit to.

How teachable are your habits?

One of the reasons why habits don’t stick is that they’re boring. The initial week can be exciting because it’s a disruption in your routine but once it loses that spark, then those habits can get sidelined for the next cool thing. When you have habits that can teach you something, about yourself or life, then they’re interesting. Try a different workout each time you go because “who knew you’d be into Bikram Yoga!”

“Working out” is just one example of a habit that can be broken down using the SMART technique. You can apply this to any of the habits you want to change. Just remember that habits take time to stick so don’t get discouraged if you fall off your consistency. Simply get back on track and keep going.  

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