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Ten Tips for Successful Habit Change

October 25, 2022

1. Connect your new habit to your best self

Deep motivation for change comes from connecting your habits to what you most want for optimal health and how that supports you in being your best self.

2. Create a 3-6 month goal

Three to six months is long enough to achieve a healthy goal or habit change that is meaningful to you – and short enough that you’ll want to get started on it right away.

3. Take small steps to success

Success builds upon success – what may seem like small changes each day add up to big shifts over time. Starts simple and small, even if it’s just lacing up your sneakers or waking up 30 minutes earlier in an effort to begin an exercise routine. Build upon each small step week by week until you reach your goal.

4. Make it easy

Your environment can make it easier or harder to change a habit. Make your new habit easier by adjusting your environment in supportive ways (e.g., keep your sneakers by the front door and stock vegetables at the front of your refrigerator).

5. Make it enjoyable

Immediate rewards help us persist towards long-term goals, so explore healthy habits you find fun. You can also pair your new habit with something you know you enjoy (e.g., watching your favorite TV show on the treadmill).

6. Do habit stacking

Utilize existing habits to link your new behavior to something you already do daily (e.g., preparing your gym bag right before bed or practicing mindfulness after your morning coffee).

7. Practice repetition and automation

Repeating a new habit reinforces and deepens its pathway in the brain, helping it to become more automated – and your new normal. Habits are easier to repeat and maintain if they happen on the same days of the week and at the same time of day.

8. Replace unhealthy habits

Recognize what triggers you to perform unhealthy habits (certain times of day, emotions, etc.) along with the reward you receive by performing the routines. Replace these habits with new ones that provide similar rewards.

9. Create a culture that supports your desired habits

Being part of a group that shares your desired behaviors and values can provide support and accountability that can be key in maintaining your habits (e.g., running or cycling group or a healthy cooking club).

10. Allow for enough time (and setbacks)

It takes time to create and maintain new habits, particularly when old ones are deeply ingrained. Try not to get discouraged when everyday challenges arise (sickness, busyness, vacation). Just begin the next day again.

 

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