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10 Steps to Make Good Habits Stick


Believe it or not, it’s never too late to get rid of  bad habits and start making good habits. But more often than not, we find ourselves making resolutions and failing within 24 hours itself. Not only is the experience frustrating, but certain habits end up costing us business productivity or personal relationships and satisfaction. But before we try to change our habits, we must be ready to accept the change, which is highly psychological in nature. When it comes to healthy good habits, our bodies might always be ready for change, but getting ready for it mentally, and accepting that change is required can be the most challenging part about breaking bad habits and changing them into good habits. But again, it’s never too late to take the plunge, so here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Take it one habit at a time: Bad habits stick faster, and longer. And the harder you try, the tougher it will. Taking it one habit at a time helps. If you’re determined to quit smoking, and also reduce caffeine dependence, you need to prioritize and choose one for at least the next 30 days. With one goal in mind, it’s always easier to work on it. 30 days is enough to time to condition your body for the change as well, so you can focus on other habits later on.
  2. Find a friend for support: Sticking to something new is hard and doing it alone can be futile, because there is no motivation for the change. Get a friend to help you out. Make a pact to quit something together, and work for it. And, if a friend has already succeeded in kicking a bad habit, they’re always on the look out to prevent you from slacking. The key to making a good habit stay for long is motivation, which is best shared with someone who cares about you.
  3. Make notes, and keep a copy. Everywhere.: Keeping things in your head can be hard, and you’re always prone to forgetting. Besides, don’t we all dismiss thoughts in a flash or postpone them for later? It’s best to write down your habit goals on paper, and put a copy everywhere. It can be on the refrigerator, on your work desk, in the bathroom. Places in your house you tend to stay more in are excellent for this. This way, you can postpone the thought, but will keep getting constant reminders of the same.
  4. Fighting the “pleasure principle”: By “pleasure principle” we do not mean choosing happiness over change, however that’s definitely involved when it comes to long term change. Those changes which induce pain or make us unhappy are bound to be short term, and the habits won’t go. If you hate exercising, but need to work out excess sugar intake, don’t spend endless amounts of money on a gym you won’t go to after the first month. Go for sugar supplements and try yoga or dance, which you enjoy and can exercise without realizing.
  5. Have role models, but be realistic: Studies have found that having and spending time with role models helps. But this role model can be your best friend or even a celebrity. Having role models can help in that if you like Person A, and he takes health drinks instead of regular colas, you can decide to follow their example and cut down on taking in the empty calories from colas. This is a realistic goal, but you need to be careful. A cover model of a magazine isn’t a good role model if you’re trying to get into the habit of exercising. Here, knowledge and common sense are an essential prerequisite.
  6. Know the how, when, where, and why: When trying to cultivate a new habit, it’s important to ask some crucial questions to yourself. How am I going to change this habit? When will I start? Where will I do it? Why am I doing this? The last question is also the one that influences the change most, and can be the key to making a habit stick. It’s important that your mind knows the reason behind the change you’re initiating. It needs to be a solid reason which will challenge your prevailing notions about the particular habit.
  7. Identify reinforcements: Every habit has certain reinforcing mechanisms behind it, and the stronger the reinforcements, the harder it is to get rid of a habit. When you’re trying to develop the habit of waking up early, consequently it implies sleeping early. So your sleeping pattern becomes the reinforcement. If you’re trying to develop this habit, you need to be aware of your sleeping pattern and bring about a change to it too. Identification and modification of such reinforcements is the key to making a habit stick.
  8. Memorize the “pros”: We talked about writing down your goals, so while you do this, it would be a good idea to make a pro-con list for your particular habit change. You need to know the cons of your habit, and the pros which are the reason you want to change it. Memorise the pros, and whenever you feel like slacking or feel that you’re failing at it, repeat the pros in your mind. It will not only give you instant motivation, moreover you will effectively get into the habit of using “but” to get a new habit. (eg. I don’t want to do thing, but it is good for my heart.)
  9. Find time: Developing a new habit requires motivation, reason and desire, but also time. It’s foolish to expect an overnight change, and of all the things you could devote time to, a little needs to go to yourself if you want a habit to stay.
  10. Don’t generalize. Personalize. : The most important thing that you need to know about habits is that there extremely personal. And have different reasons to them. To have an ideal model of the habits which one “must” have is wrong, because what maybe essential for one person may not be for another. Sure, things like smoking have a health aspect and are applicable to everyone, but even there you need not apply someone else’s pattern of quitting. Personalize your action plans to find something suitable for you, because this is the only way your mind and body will work in sync towards the particular goal.