How you spend your day greatly affects your mood, productivity, and relationships with people. The problem is that most of us need a clear plan for how to spend our days. We waste time on things that don’t matter and feel guilty about them.
For example, you might spend hours on social media when you have important tasks to finish. Or you might be sitting at your desk, wondering why you’re so unmotivated to work on a project due tomorrow.
How do you change this? The answer lies in building better habits. In fact, the key to living a more fulfilling life is to create positive habits and break the bad ones.
Building habits that align with your values and goals makes you more likely to feel good about yourself. You’ll also have time for exercise and meditation, which have been proven to boost happiness levels.
Read on to learn seventeen tips to build better habits, and how they could benefit you.
1. Define Your Outcome
What are you trying to achieve? How do you plan on achieving it?
Without a clear goal, it’s easy to get sidetracked or give up altogether.
For example, let’s say you want to start working out. It’s not enough to say, “I want to be healthy.” It would help if you were specific about what that means for you. Do you want to lose weight? Gain muscle? Be able to run a certain distance?
Your goal should be something you can measure to know when you’ve achieved it. This will help keep you motivated and on track.
2. Set a Specific Time and Place
Habits are more likely to stick if you have a specific time and place for doing them.
For instance, if you want to start meditating, decide that you’re going to do it for five minutes every morning as soon as you wake up. Or if you want to start working out, commit to going to the gym three days a week at 6 pm.
The more specific you can be, the better. This will make it easier to develop the habit because you won’t have to think about when or where to do it.
3. Make It Easy on Yourself
You’re more likely to stick with a habit if it’s easy. Not only does this make it more likely that you’ll do it, but it also helps to keep you motivated.
Some easy-to-follow yet effective habits include:
Get enough sleep
Most people need around eight hours of sleep per night. However, some people may need more or less depending on their age, lifestyle, and health. Getting enough sleep is important for many reasons, including reducing stress, improving mood, and boosting immunity.
Eat healthy foods
Eating a healthy diet is important for overall health and well-being. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Additionally, eating healthy foods can help to improve mood and energy levels.
Exercise is another important habit for overall health and well-being. Exercise can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, improve mental health, and increase lifespan. It is important to find an exercise routine that works for you and stick with it.
Limit screen time
Spending too much time staring at screens can have negative effects on health. These effects can include eye strain, headaches, neck pain, and fatigue. To limit the time you spend staring at screens, try setting a daily limit or taking breaks every 20 minutes.
Spend time with loved ones
Spending time with loved ones is important for both mental and emotional health. Spending time with loved ones can help to reduce stress levels, improve moods, and boost self-esteem.
4. Start With Small Steps
When starting a new habit, it’s important to take one step at a one.
For example, if you want to start working out, don’t commit to going to the gym five days a week for two hours at a time. That’s too much too soon, and you’re likely to give up.
Instead, start with three days a week for 30 minutes at a time. Then, once that becomes part of your routine, you can increase the frequency or duration as desired.
The same goes for other habits like eating healthy or meditating. Start with small changes you can easily stick to before making bigger ones.
5. Learn to Be Consistent
This means sticking to your plan every day, even when you don’t feel like it or when life gets in the way.
Of course, there will be times when you can’t be as consistent as you would like. That’s perfectly normal. Just pick up where you left off and keep going. The important thing is to keep going.
Other useful tips to ensure consistency with your habits include:
- Setting regular reminders: Use a calendar, alarm, or smartphone app to remind you when it’s time to work on your habit.
- Tying your habit to another existing one: For example, if you want to start working out in the morning, tie it to another daily ritual like brushing your teeth or making coffee.
- Keeping it simple: Try to change only a few things simultaneously. Focus on developing one habit at a time.
6. Be Patient With Yourself
It takes time to develop a new habit. In most cases, it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit. However, some habits may take longer to develop.
The important thing is to be patient and to keep working at it. Eventually, the new habit will become second nature.
7. Persevere Through Setbacks
Setbacks are inevitable when trying to develop a new habit. You may have an off day or two (or more). You may even find yourself slipping back into old habits from time to time.
When this happens, don’t beat yourself up or give up altogether. Instead, pick yourself up and start again. Remember that forming a new habit is a process that takes time.
8. Reward Yourself
When you stick to your habit for a certain period, give yourself a small reward. This will help reinforce the behavior and make you more likely to continue the habit.
Some possible rewards include:
- A new book: If you’re trying to form a reading habit, treat yourself to a new book after reaching your reading goal for the week or month. Some good recommendations include: “The Sun and Her Flowers” by Rupi Kaur, “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur, and “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.
- A day off: If you’re trying to stick to a workout routine, take a day off from exercise after reaching your goal for the week or month.
- A new outfit: If you’re trying to eat healthier, buy yourself a new piece of clothing in a smaller size after reaching your weight-loss goal.
9. Avoid Temptation
If certain activities or situations trigger old, unhealthy habits, do your best to avoid them. For example, if you overeat while watching TV, don’t keep snacks in the house. If you’re trying to quit smoking, avoid places where people smoke.
Of course, you can’t always avoid temptation, but trying to do so can help you stay on track.
10. Get Accountability and Support
Having someone to hold you accountable and offer support when trying to develop a new habit can be helpful. This could be a friend, family member, co-worker, or therapist.
If you want to live healthier, you might want to join a support group or a fitness class. If you’re trying to quit smoking, many programs and apps can help. Some examples include Quit Genius, QuitStart, and MyQuitBuddy.
11. Set Realistic Goals
When setting goals for your new habit, make sure they are realistic. Otherwise, you’re likely to get discouraged and give up.
For example, if you’re trying to eat healthier, don’t try to cut out all junk food immediately. Start with smaller goals, like cutting back on sugary drinks or eating one extra serving of fruits or vegetables daily.
Similarly, if you’re trying to exercise more, don’t try to go from zero to 60 right away. Start with something doable, like taking a brisk walk around the block daily.
12. Track Your Progress
Tracking your progress can help you stay motivated when trying to develop a new habit. Each time you do the desired behavior, mark it down in a journal or on a calendar. This will help you see how far you’ve come and how close you are to reaching your goal.
13. Make it Fun
If you’re struggling to stick to a new habit, try to make it more enjoyable. For example, if you’re trying to exercise more, listen to music or audiobooks while you work out. If you’re trying to eat healthier, experiment with new recipes and find healthy foods you enjoy eating.
14. Find a Role Model
Having a role model who has already developed the habit you’re trying to adopt can be helpful. Seeing someone else succeed at something can give you hope that you can do it too.
Try to find a role model similar to you in some way. This could be someone with the same background, age, or gender. For example, if you’re a young woman trying to lose weight, look for another woman who has successfully lost weight.
15. Believe in Yourself
It’s important to believe that you can develop the habit you’re trying to adopt. You’re much less likely to succeed if you don’t think it’s possible.
One way to increase your self-belief is to remember times when you’ve successfully changed your behavior in the past. This could be quitting smoking, losing weight, or breaking any bad habit. Remembering that you have succeeded before can help you believe you can do it again.
16. Learn More About Yourself
The better you understand yourself, the easier it will be to develop new habits. Pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
Try to identify any patterns in your behavior. For example, do you tend to overeat when you’re feeling stressed or lonely? Once you know your triggers, you can develop strategies for avoiding them.
17. Challenge Yourself to Do Something Different
If you’re struggling to develop better habits, try to do something different. This could mean trying a new exercise routine, eating a different type of food, or changing up your routine in some other way.
Challenging yourself in this way can help you break out of old patterns and develop new, healthier habits.
Developing new habits can be hard, but it’s possible with the right approach. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on how to develop better habits that will last.
Now it’s your turn. Choose one of the strategies from this article and use it the next time you’re trying to develop a new habit. Remember, it takes time and effort to change your behavior, so be patient with yourself. With a little practice, you’ll be developing new habits in no time.