Establishing habits that stick is hard. Whether you want to read more regularly, drink more water, keep the kitchen tidy or remember to use an eye cream more often, it won’t necessarily be easy. Why? Well because you are trying to do something that you aren’t used to doing. Obviously, it would already be a habit otherwise, right? So, if you are looking to create a habit that sticks, we’ve pulled together a few tips to help you along the way.
In order to create a habit, you need to focus on the system, not the outcomes. This is why goals are pointless unless you know the steps you need to go through in order to achieve them. If you want to be a doctor, you have to do the work to get there - get the grades and qualifications and take the time. Habits are repeated actions, not one off successes. If you go through the motions, you will get there.
If you tag your new habits onto already established ones then it will make it easier to do them regularly. This is called stacking - where you stack one habit onto another one. You can put the eye cream right after you do your teeth, you can read every time you have a bath, or even practise gratitude or mindfulness on the loo! Want to stretch more? Make a habit to do it right after you go for a run. The possibilities are endless!
If you want to run in the morning, you need to go to bed earlier. If you want to stretch before you run, you need to plan more time to do it. The best way to build your habits is to set yourself up for success. If you want to form and maintain your habits effectively, you also need an environment that is favorable for you to achieve your goals - put your running shoes by the door, check the weather, plan your route... give yourself a fighting chance. Then follow through. And then do it again.
You are creating a practice. If you want to be a runner, you have to run. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. If you want to be a reader, then...you get it. You may not always feel like it, but you need to do it in order to carry on doing it. Try doing it for just two minutes - read, run, tidy, write etc. Once you have started you will probably continue. Don’t skip it. If you do your teeth and leave the bathroom and crawl into bed before realising you haven’t put your eye cream on, get back up and go and put it on. It’s a habit, not a wish. Not every time is going to be easy. Keep going until it is.
You will have heard the phrase ‘Start small’. You can ease yourself into a new habit. This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You are establishing lifelong practices. Trying to read more books? Start with a short book on a topic you are interested in. Want to run more? Run down the road. Once you have established an easy habit, you can add to it. It just takes patience.