Quick Ways to Build Better Habits

February 5, 2019


Coffee mug that says "begin"

We all want to build better habits. Yet most of us make excuses: It’s too hard  It will take too long  Where do I even begin? If you want to build a new, healthy habit and make it stick, follow the rules below and you’ll be successful sooner than you could imagine!

Start small. You wouldn’t try to learn to play the violin in a week. The same applies to any new habit. You want to start so small you can’t possibly fail. For example, if you want to start an exercise habit, do one minute of exercise a day. Want to eat healthier? Have three blueberries, or two strawberries, or one bite of an apple a day. Thinking of learning a new computer program? Study for two minutes a day.   

Set goals. Your goals will help you gradually ramp up the amount of time you spend doing each activity. For example: “Next week, I will exercise five minutes a day; the week after, 10 minutes. In three weeks, I’ll be eating one piece of fruit and two servings of vegetables a day. In a month, I’ll be spending 30 minutes a day practicing the new computer program.”

Determine your motivation. Do you want to lose five pounds to fit into a suit that fit a year ago? Or learn a new computer program to be considered for a chance to head up a specific project? Knowing your motivation is, well, extremely motivating.

Be consistent. Practice your new habit at the same time each day. It can be right after you wake up, when you return from work, during lunch, or whatever works best for you. Use the time (or set a timer) as a reminder to carry out your new habit.

Reward yourself. Each time you complete your habit, take a short break or give yourself a pat on the back to reinforce the positive outcome of your new habit.  

Track your progress. Put a tick mark on your virtual or hard copy calendar every time you complete your new habit. Or, text a supportive friend and enjoy their positive feedback.

Plan for failure. Slipping up is normal. Everyone misses a day; we’re only human.  Don’t judge yourself; simply repeat the habit the following day.  

Build one new habit at a time. Try to build five new habits at once and you’re bound to become discouraged and quit. Once you’ve conquered one habit, you can begin a new one!

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