How can I make myself stick to good habits?

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4 January
16:19
4 January
16:44

It can be challenging to stick to New Year’s Resolutions so distilling them down into goals is a more achievable approach – especially if you write them down. Research has found you’re 42% more likely to stick to a goal if you commit it to paper. Writing out your intentions is a really good way of grounding the process and getting very clear on what you are aiming to achieve. 

"Research has found you’re 42% more likely to stick to a goal if you commit it to paper."

Keep it simple and succinct and be realistic. You may feel like everything needs an overhaul – the habits, the gut, the job, the love and social life – but it’s better to make one change at a time rather than overwhelming yourself with plans that you can’t stick to. As you integrate the more positive behaviours into your life, you will feel encouraged and can set further goals as you progress. 

A major weapon in the battle to kick or start a habit is identifying another person that you can be accountable to. Choose someone supportive and kind who will cheer you on rather than criticise you. You might want to pair up with someone who is trying to reach the same goal, whether that be starting swimming weekly or quitting smoking. In that case, pick someone reliable. Or at least ensure that you will continue regardless of your buddy’s levels of commitment. 

Identifying what might take you off track before you get there will also strengthen your resolve. Ask: what are the situations or triggers that could potentially knock me off course? Where do you foresee yourself getting tempted to either avoid new healthy behaviours or return to self-destructive ones, for example, if you are quitting refined sugar, when do you most feel tempted to hit the biscuit tin, and what can you do instead? 

"Keeping a diary is a simple way of recording your progress enabling you to see how far you’ve come already, keeping you on track and motivated."

If you’re trying to quit smoking and are aware that smoking tends to accompany alcohol, avoid booze too for a while. You can then reintroduce when on more solid ground. If you tend to gorge on snacks when you’re watching TV, switch it up, listen to music or ring a friend. If you do find yourself straying off track don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead resume the good habits as soon as possible. 

One way to stop yourself straying is acknowledging how far you’ve come. Keeping a diary is a simple way of recording your progress enabling you to see how far you’ve come already, keeping you on track and motivated. Rewards are important - consciously identify how you will reward yourself for reaching a particular marker – new clothes, a massage, more vinyl - choose a treat that will acknowledge your dedication. 

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