How to make good habits that will last

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By Heather Cherry—

The new year always inspires the formation of new habits and resolutions. Often, these good habits do not always hold. Studies show that around 80 percent of people abandon or fail within the first 30 days of making resolutions.

You don’t have to be another statistic. Instead, here’s how to make good habits that will last.

Identify your triggers

Developing good habits is only helpful if you also know (and understand) what is likely to put them off. Specific scenarios or events can trigger you and cause a routine or habit – this is called the usual loop.

Habit loops can occur in any scenario, regardless of the cause. For example, every afternoon day, you go to your local cafe for a little pick-me-up in the afternoon. While you’re at the cafe, you treat yourself to a sweet treat, even though you’ve told yourself you wouldn’t. While enjoying your coffee and sweets, you chat with others, whether they are staff, customers, or a companion with a companion.

This situation could be seen as a usually negative loop. Before you can stop engaging in this habit, you must first decide what makes you want to participate in this scenario and the reward. Do you enjoy a treat, coffee, or casual conversation the most during a workday?

Understand your triggers and how you react, checking your feelings as you navigate new habits.

Create a plan

The old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” couldn’t be more precise, especially when it comes to building habits. You haven’t developed all of your bad habits at once, and you certainly can’t change them that quickly either. Instead of adopting an all-or-nothing mentality, choose to develop a plan that focuses on the little moments of success.

Incorporate into your plan the steps you can take to bounce back if (or when) a failure occurs. Take responsibility for what caused the failure– there will be other opportunities.

You will sometimes slip into your good habits. The difference between success and failure is the ability to be resilient. Bouncing back despite your animosities helps you make your dreams come true and develops habits of lasting perseverance and resourcefulness.

Add instead of remove

You are more likely to develop good, lasting habits if you focus on adding positive things rather than removing negative things. For example, if you want to eat healthier in the New Year, instead of packing something like your favorite ice cream, add something healthy instead, like a daily dose of fruits and vegetables.

Adding will help you avoid feeling deprived and set you up for long-term success. You can apply this concept to your job or business. Think about ways to incorporate a positive habit into your daily routine. Once you are successful, continue to challenge yourself to add more. You will soon be on your way to adopting many good long-term habits.

Think positively

Positive thinking is a crucial part of good lasting habits. Whenever you decide to embark on new routines, one of the biggest obstacles between you and your success will be yourself. Positive thinking and mindfulness can help you maintain good habits by keeping a cool head.

Positive thought tends to increase overall happiness, decrease stress and anxiety, as well as your ability to problem solve and think strategically.

The opposite of positive thinking is negative self-talk. Be aware of how your negative Talking to myself can influence your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Do not let it persist because it can become destructive.

Commit to yourself

It’s easy to lose sight of your good habits, big or small, when you face challenges or feel overwhelmed at the time. Focusing on your habits might be just what you need.

When you feel less than motivated to continue your good habits, watch motivation techniques to elicit and maintain goal-oriented behavior.

Five motivation techniques for self-motivation include:

  1. Get out of your comfort zone
  2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
  3. Finish what you started
  4. Inquire
  5. Believe in yourself and never give up

Celebrate the small victories

Savor the small achievements. It will help keep you motivated to achieve something bigger and better. Plus, it will give you the boost you need to maintain your good habits for the long haul.

When you Reward yourself, you stimulate the circuit of your brain which gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Rewarding yourself with each step increases your strength and power, helping you achieve the impossible.

Evaluate and Evaluate

Building good habits is an ongoing process, which requires constant evaluation and evaluation of your accomplishments. This includes evaluating what might be holding you back.

People strive to believe that they can influence key events in their lives. Self-efficacy (perceived abilities) results from evaluative and goal-oriented self-reflection. The perception of progress increases and maintains personal effectiveness and motivation, helping you stay grounded, productive and empowered.

Take the time to assess your habits (good and bad) and eliminate those that seem like a waste of time, or worse, that require more energy than it makes or distracts you. Use the new year to develop good habits that will last long after you start. Don’t let that put you off; you got that!

Heather Cherry is a marketing consultant and Editor. She self-published, Market your A $$ reduction. She holds an MA in Professional Writing from Chatham University.

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