It doesn’t take magic to make a new habit, but sometimes it feels that way. There are, however, steps you can take to successfully build habits and reach new goals.
Habits grow a lot like plants: they need consistent attention and repeated actions before you see big changes. Imagine if all the farmers in the world gave up growing crops or flowers because after a few days of watering the fields they didn’t see full corn stocks or flower blooms! Here are some tips and tricks to help you make good habits stick and, like a plant, grow it from something small into something big you can really be proud of.
Start small, smaller than you think. Of course you need a big-picture goal of what you want to accomplish eventually, but you also need small, minimum amounts of work to do every day to achieve that goal. Something like doing three or five good push-ups every day so that you can eventually do 100 push-ups. It takes a lot of energy, concentration, and willpower to achieve big things all at once. But it’s easier to achieve smaller goals that eventually build up to form bigger habits or achieve large goals.
Get hooked on your new habit. It’s hard to let go of an item or a project you’ve put a lot of effort and time into—you don’t want to feel like all that time was wasted! Why not use this natural feeling as motivation to continue practicing your new habit? To help see how far you’ve come and strengthen your resolve to keep going, create a visual reminder that shows how often you’ve practiced your new habit. You could mark it on a calendar or create a paper chain that you add to. When you see how long it’s been since you missed a day of completing your small habit goals, the harder you’ll fight to keep going and not break your perfect record.
Be specific. The more specific you are about your overall goal and the habits you need to establish to achieve it, the more likely you are to succeed. If you want to be a faster runner, set a goal of running a set distance in a certain amount of time. Don’t be vague when describing your habit goals—you don’t want to give yourself any wiggle room to slack off!
Celebrate small wins. Celebrate when you reach a smaller goal, like completing 10 straight days of practicing your new habit. When you reward yourself for making progress, you activate the reward center in your brain, which releases chemicals to make you experience feelings of achievement and pride. These emotions can help motivate you through to reach the next goal, even when it feels really challenging.
Find accountability. Share your goals with friends and family who can cheer you on and who can help remind you why you want to reach your big goal when you feel like quitting.