How To Create New Habits And Stick To Them

Healthy habits are the backbone of any good routine. However, creating and sticking to those habits is another story. Starting a new journey can be difficult, and getting the motivation to start a new habit and stay with it for the long haul can take a lot of time, energy, and determination, which isn't always easy to find in our already busy lives. While setting new goals for yourself is important, it's also imperative that keeping those habits consistent in your life is a priority.

Habits can revolve around relationships, careers, family, health, and other areas of life (via Healthline). Creating these little changes can make a big difference in your life in the long run, and the benefits of healthy habits can make you happier. They may be seen through mental and physical health and so much more. Habits can include starting a new exercise routine, limiting screen time, eating healthy, making time for self-care, reading more, getting better sleep, drinking more water, or whatever goals align with your life.

So, what does it take to create these new habits and stick with them so that they become ingrained in your daily life?

How to build a lasting habit

Before building a new habit, you must know what you want. The first step to creating change in your life is figuring out your end goal and then understanding how to work toward that goal. If you want to focus on your physical health, then working out and eating healthy may be at the top of your list. If you're looking to get more sleep at night, crafting a nighttime routine that helps you unwind may be just what you need. According to Pro Service, there are four steps to building any habit. Cue, craving, response, and reward. The signal is what tells your brain it's time for action. Cravings are what give the motivation to initiate the action. Meanwhile, the response is the action taken to get the reward. This is known as a habit loop.

This means that you first have to create a trigger to form a habit. This could be using an alarm to indicate it's time to head to the gym, take your supplements or stop scrolling on your phone for the night. After figuring out your cues, you'll notice the motivation to complete the task so that you get a reward afterward. This could mean going out for a walk after eating a healthy dinner, reading a chapter of a book before bed, watching your favorite show while on the treadmill, etc.

While building a habit loop can be difficult, there are many ways to help you stick with it.

Take baby steps to ensure your success

When building a new habit, you don't want to overwhelm yourself. Setting yourself up for success, no matter how little, is very important. That's why starting very small in your journey may be the right idea. You won't be able to run a marathon after a week at the gym. So, little wins are going to be imperative to your success. Try committing to 30 days of focusing on your habit. Attempt to be mindful of achieving your goals, like drinking more water each day, cooking at home instead of going out to eat, or carving out some time for small self-care activities each day. Eventually, you'll be able to work your way up to bigger feats as you start seeing results.

To ensure you're giving yourself the best chance possible at achieving your goals, try to prepare yourself to achieve your task (via Forbes). This could look like packing your gym bag the night before, making yourself a healthy lunch to take to work, filling up your water bottles and putting them in the refrigerator so they're easy to grab, or shutting down your electronics by a specific time of the night.

Doing this step will help you eliminate excuses that might allow you to feel justified in breaking your habit loop.

Try habit stacking to be more productive

One of the best methods to ease into change is habit stacking. This combines a habit you've already developed with one you're trying to create. "Habit stacking is a really effective strategy for building new habits because it builds off of the existing neural networks in our brains," Melissa Ming Foynes, Ph.D., tells Real Simple. "When you identify a daily action or habit you already engage in, add [a new habit or make a change] before or after the existing habit. Rather than strengthening an entirely new neural network, you're capitalizing on a structure and cycle that already exists in your brain," she adds.

To habit stack, think of the things you already do daily and figure out how to add a new habit to them. This could look like meditating while your coffee is brewing in the morning or folding laundry while watching TV at night. Perhaps you can listen to an audiobook while commuting to work or do yoga while enjoying your favorite podcast.

Any way that you can add new habits to your already established routine will help you be more productive. In addition, the habits you've already made will help serve as cues for the new habits you're trying to build.

Use a habit tracker to see your progress

One way to keep your daily habits in order and motivate yourself to continue your daily routine is by tracking your habits. There are several apps that can help you along the way. All you have to do is plug in your specific habits and mark them off daily as you get them done, per Insider. Using other electronic habit trackers, such as a simple calendar or an online organization tool like Notion, may also be helpful if you're more tech-savvy.

However, for those who enjoy putting pen to paper, buying a habit tracker is always an option. A simple to-do list regarding your habits is also a great way to keep track of them, as well as a homemade bullet journal with a habit tracker inside. These are good options for someone trying to spend less time in front of a screen. By tracking your habits and how often you are achieving your set goals, you'll be able to see the progress you're making in real time, which to some, could be a reward within itself.

Meanwhile, sticking to your goals may feel rewarding, but it can also be a bit lonely if you don't have someone to support you.

Use the buddy system

According to LifeHack, building a new habit may be easier if you have someone there to support you. If you can find someone with the same goal in mind, you'll be able to hold each other accountable for completing your tasks. Although you don't need to complete the task together, having someone by your side can make the work more enjoyable. Perhaps you can find a workout buddy to hit the gym with or someone to start a book club with. Maybe you've been looking for somebody to hold you responsible for eating healthier or getting your finances in order.

While close friends and family members make great accountability buddies, a romantic partner is also a good option. By achieving your goals with your partner, it may allow you to spend more time together, share new experiences, get healthy together, and so much more. So, if one of your goals is to strengthen your romantic relationship, friendship, or familial bond, creating a habit with that person would be a great way to habit stack and be ultra productive.

Whatever you do to keep yourself motivated and driven to complete your habits each day, remember that there are many options that will help you set yourself up for success.