How to Make Habits Stick

Breaking a habit is pretty simple. But it’s not easy.

Think about it; all you have to do is interrupt one pattern and replace it with another. Take the “bad” behavior habit and replace it with a good one. That’s it. That’s all you have to do.

Then why is it so hard?

Well, change isn’t easy. It’s something that often feels uncomfortable; it’s scary and uncertain- and our brain is designed to protect us from things that are uncertain.

Your life right now, is a sum of all your habits. Everything you do every day, is a habit. We operate on habits and most of them operate on autopilot.

If you want to make a change; no matter how small or big, you will never do it if you continue to do the same things you’ve been doing your entire life. Every change begins with the same thing: breaking one habit and replacing it with another.

ONE HABIT AT A TIME

Start small. Start with small changes that will be easier to adapt to. The truth is, if you think you can change your life and form a bunch of new habits at once, your expectations are unrealistic. Starting a new habit is easy, but making it stick is a different story- this is why you should try to only form one habit at a time. Forming a new habit, changing up your routine takes a lot of focus and whether you’re working on a social, fitness, work, personal or a diet habit- make sure that you’re working only on one at a time. Don’t try to change everything at once- you’ll feel overwhelmed and frustrated.

Your dreams and goals are probably different from mine, but I’m guessing you’ve probably told yourself the same thing I’ve been telling myself for many years: “I can only achieve this when the time is right“.  And you wait. And wait. Next thing you know the years pass by and you still didn’t get in shape, you still don’t get up early in the morning, you still feel miserable at your job, but don’t do anything about it. The only way for any big change to happen, is through small, daily habits and behaviors you change. You want to get in shape? Start walking every day. You don’t need to wait until you have enough money to hire a personal trainer, if you can’t afford it right now. Start walking every morning for ten minutes. Then make it fifteen, then twenty minutes. That simple change is what will bring you closer to your “big” goal.

DON’T SKIP TWO DAYS IN A ROW

When forming a new habit the most difficult thing for most of us is actually sticking to it. If you’ve ever tried to develop a workout routine, then you probably know that the excitement and drive can sometimes wear off after about a week or so. You skip two or three days, and next thing you know, you’ve stopped completely.

It’s been proven by research that skipping a day when changing a habit doesn’t have a big impact on your long-term goals. You shouldn’t expect yourself to be perfect, it’s okay to slip up- as long as you get back on track. Skipping two days in a row, is a different story- skip a couple of days in a row, and you’ll feel discouraged. That’s why it’s important to….

…PLAN AHEAD

If you want to change your eating habits, you have to make sure that you’re prepared. Make sure that you have a healthy snack in your bag, don’t keep any “bad” foods in your pantry and hold yourself accountable. You want your environment to be designed for success.

Be prepared for potential setbacks; think of the things that might get in your way. If you know you’re going to have a long day and by the time you get home you’ll have no energy for your daily workout, do it in the morning. Get it out-of-the-way. Make sure that your day has some room for those new habits you want to develop;  you need to schedule them in and plan ahead.

5-4-3-2-1

There are a few books that I can say changed my life. The 5 Second Rule is one of them- and I only finished reading it this week. I already started applying this rule and can tell you this: it works. The book is written by Mel Robbins, and if you haven’t seen her TedTalk yet, you need to.

In her book, Mel talks about the 5 Second Rule– a form of metacognition she designed that has helped her switch gears and form new behavioral patterns. The idea is this: if you have an impulse or a thought to do something (like “Maybe I’ll go for a run“) and don’t act on it, physically get up and do it within 5 seconds, your brain will stop you from taking action. Mel says that counting backwards “5-4-3-2-1” the moment you feel an instinct to do something, gives you immediate control over your actions. Counting backwards requires focus and concentration and counting “5-4-3-2-1” activates you prefrontal cortex- part of your brain involved in decision-making and planning. The point is, you don’t really need to understand how this works, you just need to try it.

REWARD YOURSELF

Reward yourself every time you hit a milestone. Whether it be buying a new lipstick, allowing yourself to binge-watch your favorite TV show, getting a manicure or buying new workout clothes- make sure you give yourself credit for making your new habits stick and celebrate your wins, even if they’re small. Remember that every big change, begins with a single step.


  • Ana

    I think sticking new habits can be a bit complicated but if you’re determined to do it you will. It’s also important to not skip any day xxx
    http://fallingforablog.blogspot.com.es/2017/04/3-comfy-and-cute-outfits-for-spring.html

  • I’m definitely guilty of trying to change every single habit and basically my whole life in one day. I tell myself before I go to bed that tomorrow will be different, I’m going to get up early, eat healthy and get a million and one things done… it never happens ahah! I definitely need to take things more slowly and one habit at a time. Getting up earlier and making the most of my mornings is a huge goal for me! Thank you for these tips and I LOVE that 5 second rule! <3 xxx
    http://www.samanthafrances.co.uk

    • Haha I know the feeling Samantha! It’s so important to remember to take everything one step at a time. Ah I know! I loved the book, going to pick up a paper copy too so I can make notes- the 5 second rule is such a great concept and it actually works!

  • They say it takes 21 days to break or stick to a habit, I definitely agree with that, it is really hard to do!

    Alice | alicemaysnell

  • Okay I am so going to try 5-4-3-2-1 before I hit snooze tomorrow! Thank you

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  • Rosy Ferry

    This is so relevant to me at the moment, I’m trying to change my eating habits at the minute and I can sometimes feel myself slipping into old habits!

    Rosy | Sparkles of Light Blog
    My Instagram | Instagram

  • These were pretty much the steps that I followed when I started to practise yoga at home. If I miss two days then I’ll start to get really lazy, I have to be consistent and get into the flow. After struggling to make it into a habit for almost a year, these days I practise at least 4 times a week whenever my little one goes for a nap. :-)

    • I workout at home so I’m the same way! Congrats on sticking to it and practicing 4 times a week, that’s awesome! :)

  • Lisa Autumn

    One habit at a time is such a good tips! I always tend to want to change everything at once.. and it never works!

    xx Lisa | lisaautumn.com

  • Ahh it seems so obvious now, but I always set myself up for failure trying to make too many changes at once. I definitely have that problem of skipping a day, and then the next, and then somehow 2 weeks have gone by and I haven’t exercised. I am excited to try the 5 second rule!

    Jenn │ Beauty by Jellybean

    • Taking it one small change at a time is definitely the way to go. The 5 Second rule is such an eye-opener, everyone should read that book!

  • Ooooh I love a good Ted Talk! These are definitely some great tips, some of which I’ve utilized before, and some that I admittedly need to revisit lol. Sometimes I’m really good at sticking with habits, other times, not so much. Thanks for reminding me to get my ish together. I’ll definitely be utilizing this 5 second rule in the future!

    http://www.theindiebyline.com

  • These are all great suggestions. I’ve been (slowly) reading Gretchen Rubin’s ‘Better Than Before,’ all about making habits, and some of the stuff in there has really helped. Namely, the idea of forming a habit around a reward (perfect for someone like me who needs incentive to do anything, haha!). I wanted to get into the habit of waking up early and stretching every morning. Now, I put on an episode of my favourite TV show as I do my stretches, making me way more likely to get up and do it. Sounds ridiculous, but it works!

    I’ve not heard of that 5 Second Rule, but I LOVE it and can totally understand how that works. I’m going to give that a go next time I can feel myself pulling away from sticking to good habits — a frequent occurrence considering I work from home 3 days a week!

    Eire | Wolf & Stag

    • That sounds like something that works- love the concept of rewarding yourself, will need to check out “Better than Before”!

      The 5 Second Rule is so simple, but it actually does work!

  • Natalie Redman

    Great post. Really want to stop biting my nails! So definitely gonna use these tips.

    http://www.upyourvlog.com