How to Make Good Habits That Stick
Written by Phylicia Masonheimer | December 30, 2016
New Year’s Day is right around the corner, and if you’re like me, goal setting is part of your plan for the new year! I love looking back on what I accomplished in the last 12 months. Yet even if I’ve achieved some of my goals, there are some that need improvement. Cultivating healthy habits is an uphill battle!
How do we make good habits that actually stick? Well, that is both easier—and harder—than you may think. Here are some helpful tips.
Recognize your weakness
The beginning of good habits requires an honest look at ourselves. Where do we consistently fail? What do we want to change? By recognizing where we are weak, we can create goals and habits to counteract that potential damage.
Your weakness might be excessive snacking, sleeping in, running late or gossiping. Whatever it is, be honest with yourself so you can make positive, lasting changes.
Embrace your strengths
What are your strengths? How can those help you say no to bad habits and embrace what is good?
Perhaps you are generally very organized, but you always run late. Your organizational strength could help you be on time; you simply have to employ that strength to your own benefit! This will take some thought and self-reflection. You’ll probably want to write down your thoughts and compare your strengths and weaknesses. As you do, you’ll see patterns of behavior emerge that will help you decide which habits to prioritize.
Make the wrong thing inconvenient
Conquering bad habits is often a mind game with yourself. We naturally want to choose immediate gratification—even if we know the long-term effects aren’t good for us. A great way to gain momentum with good habits is to begin by conquering the bad ones. To do this, make doing the wrong thing inconvenient.
So if you know you’re tempted to eat junk food late at night, don’t keep it in your apartment or dorm room, or ask your mom to hide it from you! If you struggle to be on time, set all your clocks 10 minutes ahead to trick yourself into being on time. If you drink too much coffee, buy whole bean coffee so you have to grind it in order to make it. Having to take that extra step to get what you want can help discourage a bad habit!
Make the good habit easy to do
Whenever you remove a habit, you have to replace it with something else. If you don’t, it’s very easy to fall right back into your old patterns.
Just as you make the bad habit inconvenient, make the good habit very easy to do. If you want to drink more water, get a water bottle you love and keep it with you at all times. If you want to work out in the morning, set out all your workout clothes the night before. Make it easy to do what you want to do!
Pair unsavory tasks with things you love
You might want to change your habits, but you struggle to actually do it. How do you persuade yourself to do what you don’t like to do? Try pairing a new habit with something you love!
For example, I don’t always want to work out in the morning—but I do love to listen to podcasts! So I will pair my favorite podcast with my workout, making the workout more tolerable and easy to do. Whatever you love, try to pair it with the habits you’re trying to form.
Just do it!
Sometimes forming a good habit is as simple as just doing it. We don’t always want to do what’s right, but we have to get past our feelings and do it anyway. When we do, the reward proves itself with time! Have faith that cultivating a healthy, God-honoring life will reap better rewards than one peppered with bad habits and a lack of discipline, because it will. Long-term rewards are worth short-term difficulty—every time!