3 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Good Habits Stick

So, you’ve decided to start a new habit. Good for you!

And maybe it’s a big one. It could be a habit that you know you need to keep up for years or possibly the rest of your life. Whether it’s health-related, work-related, family-related or something-else-related, you know that you’re going to need to make a serious commitment to maintain this new habit long into the future in order to see any significant improvement.

Easier said than done, right? Maintaining good habits for years and years is hard, so don’t beat yourself up if you recall a few times when you fell off the wagon after a week or even a few days. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re weak or unintelligent or uncommitted—it just means that you’re probably not using the right strategy to stay on track.

Here are three major tips I’d like to offer (because I use them myself) to help you keep up with your habits. Eventually, they’ll be like second nature to you and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.

1. Establish a trigger.

A trigger is a person, a place, a thing, or some type of signal that serves as a visual reminder of your habit. By training your brain to think of your habit every time you see your trigger in the wild, you heighten your chances of sticking with it.

For example, I’ve seen someone put a sticker of the number seven on the back of her smartphone. Every time she saw that number seven, either on her phone or somewhere else, she was triggered to automatically think positively about herself. Positive thinking was the habit she wanted to maintain.

I also remember reading about a guy who would get down on the floor to do two pushups every time he went to the bathroom, before he washed his hands. In this case, fitness was the habit he wanted to establish, and going to the bathroom/washing his hands was the trigger to remind him.

2. Create 30-day challenges to switch things up.

If you’ve ever tried to maintain a good habit for a month or longer, then you probably know that it can get pretty boring, pretty fast. So you start to let yourself get less serious about it, or you start giving in to more distractions. And before you know it, you’ve undone your good habit.

Long-term habits need to be switched up regularly. I’m a big fan of starting each new month with a fresh challenge, and there are limitless ways you can challenge yourself, even for the same old habit.

Trying to get healthy? Join a new yoga class this month, or maybe aim to eat X more fruits and veggies every day the next month. Looking to improve your relationship with your partner? Set up a weekly date night one month, then maybe switch it up by going for long evening walks together at least 3 to 5 days a week the month after that.

You’d be surprised just how much an old habit can seem like new again when you have a new way to challenge yourself.

3. Write in a daily journal about your progress.

Even if you despise writing, you need to find a way to get over it. The difference between the people who get things done and the people who don’t is that the people who get things done write everything down.

Writing about your thoughts, feelings, goals, progress, fears and anything else that crosses your mind, is not only therapeutic—it increases your awareness and helps you organize everything that’s flying through your mind.

All you need is a simple notebook to write in or a document file on your computer if you’d rather type your journal entries. I recommend scheduling the same time of day either every morning or every night to write at least a few paragraphs.

Don’t worry about spelling and grammar. Just write whatever comes to mind!

As a bonus, I’ll give you one extra little tip: Remember to reward yourself often in a way that reinforces your good habit (as opposed to sabotaging it).

If you’re trying to get fit, book yourself a nice spa day once a month rather than a day on the couch with a bag of potato chips. If you want to stop spending so much time on your smartphone, schedule a day trip every so often to do something outdoorsy or adventurous that doesn’t involve technology—instead of allowing yourself to freely spend as much time as you want on your phone as a reward.

Want to learn more about habits? Come sign up for my 28 daily must-do rules for getting stuff done and becoming a better person.

Photo Credit: Tim Pierce

95 comments

William C
William C12 months ago

Thanks.

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W. C
W. C12 months ago

Thank you.

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Clare O
Clare O'Bearaabout a year ago

the net will distract you

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Clare O
Clare O'Bearaabout a year ago

make lists and write down assignments

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Clare O
Clare O'Bearaabout a year ago

th

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Sonia M

Thanks for sharing

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Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer1 years ago

Interesting recomendations

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara3 years ago

Thanks for the healthy living tips but I find the advertising underneath offensive.

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