No one is perfect. Everyone could do with making some improvements. This is true at every stage of life. The way to make an improvement more permanent is generally to adopt a new positive habit. The habit might be one of many things — to exercise regularly, waste less time on social media, eat more vegetables, or any number of other forms of self-improvement.
What all these things have in common is that a person needs to know how to actually stick with a new positive habit to accomplish their goal. The wish itself is rarely enough. Human nature is frail. How often do people end up exactly where they started shortly after trying to begin a new habit? Fortunately, anyone can overcome this problem. Here are four big tips for how you can stick with a new helpful habit.
Focus on the Underlying Motivation
A desire to make some change doesn’t spring up of its own accord. If you want to adopt a new habit, there is certainly some larger, deeper reason lying beneath the surface. There’s a good chance you already know the deeper motivation. But if you don’t, search your feelings.
Ask why you want to take on this new positive habit. How will your life be better once you make this change? What will it do for your body, mind, or emotions? Sometimes, this process may even reveal that your desire for the new habit was truly an idle whim better left ignored. But otherwise, identifying the emotional motivation precisely will help you stay on task.
Do It Frequently
Repetition is needed to make a habit truly a habit. Something you only do once a month isn’t really a habit, is it? For some positive habits (such as eating a good diet), it’s necessary to do the habit each and every day. Even when this isn’t necessarily the case (such as working out regularly), the more often, the better.
That’s because until something is practiced repeatedly, it won’t feel like part of your normal life. It will still just be something you did once or twice. But the more you practice the habit, the more it will be part of your routine. The best part is that making something a regular part of your life makes it easier to do, as well. The need for willpower to continue with your habit will be steadily reduced over time.
Get Help From Others
Humans are naturally social creatures. While going it alone is possible, it’s usually much easier to accomplish something with the help of others. That help can assume a wide variety of forms. The kind of help you should seek will vary depending on the nature of the habit you want to instill in yourself, of course.
For example, some habits are amenable to being pursued with other people seeking the same end. If you want to start regularly working out, then simply joining an exercise class or finding a running partner is a practical, easy strategy. For other habits, emotional support from friends and family may be what you need. This is particularly so for habits that are solo activities.
Be as Resilient as Possible
Setbacks are a fact of life. Especially when trying to adopt a difficult new habit, it’s to be expected that you will falter sometimes. In those moments, it can be easy to feel that you’ve failed completely. However, in fact, fostering a new positive habit is usually a matter of intermittent progress and regression.
What this means is that simply not giving up is often more important than anything else in forming a new habit. Don’t think that you are simply back to square one when you are struggling. Making a positive change usually takes consistent effort over a prolonged period. Maintaining that effort is more crucial than totally avoiding setbacks.
Every person has a different set of helpful habits they would like to adopt. But more important than the specifics is consistently being able to choose a goal, decide what habit is needed to reach that goal, and then sticking with the habit over the long term. If you can master this ability, it will allow you to transform your life for the better.