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Well into the summer months, we are officially in the second half of 2021. And it begs the question, “How am I doing on my New Year’s Resolutions?” Have you been following through with those promises to yourself or have they slowly gone off the rails? Whether those goals are a thought of the past or you’ve diligently stuck with them, the following strategies will help you build lasting habits and eliminate bad ones.

  1. Find your ‘why?’

The first step to creating a good habit or eliminating a bad one is to understand how it benefits you. Why is this habit important? How is it in service of the person you are becoming? What will happen if you don’t stick with the habit? Clarity is key and will help drive you forward on the days you want to find excuses.

2. Start simple

In James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, he speaks of a habit forming principal called ‘Make it Easy’. As humans, we’re always looking for the most efficient way to get things done, so why can’t your habits be the same? Let’s say you want to read every night but the idea of that sounds daunting. Break it down further with the 2 minute rule; just read for two minutes to start. No matter how into the book you are, put it down at the 2 minute mark. Try that for a week and then you’ll find yourself both sticking to the habit and starting to easily read past that mark.

Another strategy to try is habit stacking. This is when you add a desired habit to one you already do. For example, I wanted to start consuming grass-fed collagen protein every day for its’ health benefits so I created a habit of putting it in my coffee each morning. It’s much easier to stick to a habit when there’s an existing one to prime your behavior.

3. Eliminate temptations and distractions

Speaking of priming behavior, clear out all the triggers in your environment for bad habits. If you tend to gravitate towards unhealthy food options, don’t buy them. If watching TV in the evening is too tempting, don’t go in that room…or perhaps turn the power off for that room. Whatever you have to do, make the bad habit so hard to carry out that you’re not tempted to engage in it.

4. Set yourself up for success

On the flip side of tip #3, prime your environment with positive cues. If you want to eat healthy, keep good food choices available and prepped at all times (I highly recommend a few healthier snack options as well – I have a sweet tooth and my go-to chocolate fix is Eating Evolved’s Chocolate Keto Cups). If you want to read a book in the evening instead of watching tv, leave a book readily available wherever you plan to read it.

Think about how many decisions you make each day: when to get out of bed, what to eat, what to wear, what to do with your day… the list goes on. Make your life a little easier by priming your environment with cues so you don’t have to make as many conscious decisions to achieve good habits.

5. Make bad habits unattractive

“Stop – put down the phone!” This is something I have to tell myself when I succumb to the endless scrolling that is social media. I’m human and like many, I enjoy scrolling through TikToks on occasion (yes, even though I’m a Millennial). But there’s a fine line between sporadically enjoying and beginning a bad habit. When I catch myself falling into this trap, I think of all the negative consequences of engaging in this behavior. “I won’t get anything done this evening”, “I’ll feel like I wasted my time”, “I’ll be stressed later if I don’t do these other tasks instead”.

I get it, it’s not always easy. But the more you can reframe bad habits and think about the negative consequences, the easier it will be to avoid that behavior.

6. Track daily progress

When I’m having trouble starting a new habit, I track it. It becomes a goal of mine to check that “to-do” off my list every single day. If you think this might work for you, there are apps you can download on your phone to always have that reminder with you. I use Loop Habit Tracker to track both daily and weekly habits. As a visual learner, seeing that progress encourages me to keep up the good work.

7. Never skip twice.

Okay so I’ve shared a lot about doing the good habits but what happens when you fall off the horse? First of all, don’t beat yourself up about missing a day. It happens and we’ve all been there at some point. You got sick, the day got too busy, or maybe you’re just really tired; the important thing is what you do next. Skipping once makes you human; skipping twice is forming a new habit.

8. Make it attainable but just out of reach

Yes, we want habits to be easy. But if they’re too easy, we can take them for granted. Then you slip up, and it’s an easy habit you can get back to any time so you slip up again. And, well, read tip #7. So it has to be easy but leave room for growth. If the habit becomes too easy, keep moving the goal post by adding complexity or habit stacking.

9. Check-in and evaluate your progress

Make a plan to check-in on your progress regularly. How are you doing? Is your strategy working or is there room for improvement? When we evaluate our progress, it builds our confidence in what has been done and allows us reflection on what needs to change. It also helps us analyze if we have the right habits to achieve the version of ourselves we want to become.

Try these nine strategies to build lasting habits and let me know what worked best for you! If you’re looking for more guidance on habits and want someone to work with you, consider hiring a life coach. A Best Life Coach can help you identify your desired habits and help you build a plan to follow-through on them. After all, living your best life starts with making consistent, intentional progress towards who you want to be and the life you want to live. We’re out here living our best lives; let us help you do the same.

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