5 Steps to Forming Healthy Habits

Still sticking to your New Years’ resolution? Only 25% of people stay committed to their resolutions after 30 days. Only 8% accomplish them. 

Because here’s the thing. Breaking old habits and forming new ones is HARD. That said, there is solid research on how habits are formed and what we can do to be more successful in our efforts. 

Here are some science-backed strategies for making habits stick:

  1. Set a goal. The more specific you can be, the better.
  2. Choose one simple action that will get you to your goal. Make sure this is an action you can repeat every day. 
  3. Plan when and where you will do this simple action. Choose a time and place you will encounter every day of the week. This will be the trigger for your new habit.
  4. Every time you encounter the time and place trigger, do the action. 
  5. Within 10 weeks, you should find you are doing the new action automatically and without even thinking. 

Here’s a quick example. Your goal is to exercise every day. You choose an action to put on your shoes and walk around the block every day. Your trigger is washing your face in the morning. So, every morning you wake up and wash your face and then put on your shoes and walk around the block. 

Trigger → Action → Habit 

Some people also find it helpful to keep track of how many times they engage in their new habit. Grab any calendar and just put an X on every day you do the habit. Aim to X off every day!

Need more help is creating healthy habits? Maybe I can help. Let’s talk about it. Let’s schedule some time to connect.

Gardner B, Lally P, Wardle J. Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice. Br J Gen Pract. 2012; 62: 664-666. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23211256/