How can you create a habit that sticks?

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The time of New Years Resolutions is upon us! What are resolutions?? Really, these are new habits you want to form. Habits like exercising more, eating better, getting to bed earlier, etc. Without a game plan, these resolutions are dropped just a few weeks into the new year… not this time!

How can you actually create a habit that sticks!? 

Triggers.

A trigger is something that you put in place to remind you of something. Sounds pretty basic, but it works… and here’s why. We have a lot to think about in the day. Especially when we’re trying to establish a new habit, it’s easy to forget. Not necessarily because you don’t want to do it, but because it’s not a part of your routine yet. Our brains like routine. The more mindless we can make something, the easier it will become (and stay) a part of our daily routine.

How mindless is brushing your teeth? If I had to guess, it’s one of the very first things you do in the morning. At first maybe your parents had to remind you daily (trigger), or when you went to the bathroom you saw your toothbrush and were reminded (trigger). It’s become such a part of your routine now that there’s no question about it. This is ideally what we want to happen to every positive habit.

For me, flossing my teeth has not been a habit I established. After countless dentist visits of them gently scolding me to floss more and some not-so-fun cavity fillings, I finally decided this needed to become a habit. I can really only floss with those floss picks, so I filled up a mason jar with them and sat them right on my bathroom counter. Now this is a daily reminder, aka trigger, that I need to floss before bed. And it’s actually working! Since then, I’ve flossed more nights than I haven’t and this is a huge improvement! Before, I would really only floss in the few days leading up to the dentist visit and maybeeeee the few days after, but that would be it.

I do the same thing with my workout clothes. I’m into a habit of working out each day, but I really want to make sure my workout time is first thing in the morning. To remind myself and make it easier, I lay out my workout clothes the night before. Literally every piece of clothing I’ll need – sports bra, tank, shorts, socks, sneakers. It takes me a lot less time in the morning to get ready and I’m immediately triggered to get it done!

The awesome thing is this tactic can be used for pretty much any habit you’re wanting to develop. Maybe it’s an alarm on your phone. Maybe it’s seeing a certain person (like an accountability partner). Maybe it’s putting something different in your space (like I did with the floss).

So how do you actually do it?

First- determine the habit you want to create.
Second- consider possible triggers.
Third- choose the best one for you.

Don’t be afraid to changes things up if a certain trigger isn’t working for you. I would allow at least a week and then evaluate how the trigger is working. It may be helpful to use some sort of tracker so you’re not having to go based on memory. This could be a note in your phone, your planner, a piece of paper, etc, but track each time you complete the given desired habit.

What habit are you focused on developing? I’d love to read them in the comments below. If you’re having trouble determining a good trigger, lets chat! I’d be happy to help 🙂 Lets make 2017 the most productive and awesome year yet!

Rachel

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