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How To Build a Habit That Sticks

Research shows that it takes 66 days to form a new habit, but if you stay consistent, it can take less than half that time. To help you get started, follow our three golden rules for habit formation.

Details

Habits are actions made on a repetitive basis with little to no effort or thought. They can even become subconscious actions. Some habits are new, and some are old – new habits are the things you do; old habits are the things you are. It’s the difference between eating a healthy meal vs. being a healthy eater.

The key to forming new habits is to practice them so consistently that they cross the threshold into being life-long characteristics that you don’t give a second thought to. The ability to form and maintain habits allows us to push ourselves into new terrain and grow as individuals.

As Tynan writes in “Superhuman by Habit: A Guide to Becoming the Best Possible Version of Yourself, One Tiny Habit at a Time,” they are the “loophole that allows you to upgrade your health, quality of life, productivity, and enjoyment of the world.”

On average, research shows that it takes 66 days to form a new habit, but in many cases, it can take less than half that time. Everyone builds and breaks habits differently but experts agree that one of the best ways to form habits is by starting small, staying consistent, and increasing at a manageable pace. The most important thing is to take the actions that make the most sense for you and your lifestyle. To help get you to form a habit that sticks, check out our three golden rules below.

Homework

The Three Golden Rules of Habit Formation:

1. PICK A HABIT
Choose something that you have been wanting to work on for a while and are passionate about sticking to. It can be something like working out, eating healthier, meditating, or taking piano lessons. The first step is identifying what habit you want to create and ensuring that it’s important to you; otherwise, it will be hard to maintain. Remember to start small and not expect perfection on day one. If you have never meditated before and now want to try, start with 1 minute a day and work your way up as you go.
2. CONSISTENCY IS KEY

“Better to maintain a modest life-long habit than to start an extreme habit that can’t be sustained for a single year.”
Make it non-negotiable that you don’t miss a day. When I was in college, I made exercise a habit by printing out my course schedule and then blocking out an hour every weekday for a workout. It was on the calendar, printed and posted on the door for all to see, making it much harder to go back on.
Having an accountability buddy is a fun way to keep you on track and make habit formation a bit more social and exciting. Pick someone you trust who also has a habit they’re working on and send each other reminders to mediate or updates on your daily run time to keep each other motivated.

3. INCREASE AT A MANAGEABLE PACE
Forgive yourself if you slip up one day, but don’t use that as a reason to stop trying. Use your mistakes to motivate your drive. To help avoid the letdowns, opt for bite-sized goals that are manageable on a daily basis. Instead of trying to go from never running to running a 10k, opt for bite-sized goals like running for 5 minutes, then walking for 5, and repeat. You’ll be surprised how quickly those small steps add up to something larger.

Cite Your Sources

Do your own research! Start with the resources below.

SUPERHUMAN BY HABIT

A Guide To Becoming The Best Possible Version Of Yourself.

ATOMIC HABITS

An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.

TED TALKS ON GOAL SETTING

A collection of TED Talks (and more) on the topic of Goal-setting.

PERSONAL GOAL SETTING GUIDE

Planning to Live Your Life Your Way.

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