5 Hacks for Forming (and Sticking to) New Habits

The beginning of the year is the time of year most known for making (and breaking) new habits – but there is no right or wrong time to start adding beneficial practices into your everyday routine. Here are some tips to get started!

1. Focus on one new habit at a time.

People only have so much will power. The most difficult part of establishing a new habit is the beginning, before it becomes a seamless part of your routine. Focusing on adding one habit at a time will make it much more likely that you will be able to stick with it.

2. Plan to dedicate 66 days to forming your habit.

Though there is no magical amount of time that guarantees successful habit-building, a study on human behavior by researcher Phillippa Lally indicates that it takes 66 days to form a habit. This is a good guideline for starting your habit, especially if it is something you would like to continue long-term.

3. Write lists.

Planning and accountability are key for forming and sticking to new habits. The easier way to handle both of these elements is to make lists. Make morning to-do lists in the evening before bed, and day/evening to-do lists in the morning when you wake up. Make sure to check off or cross out each item that you complete – this way, you get to feel rewarded for each task you finish and are able to hold yourself accountable.

4. Take advantage of all the extra minutes in the day.

There are so many minutes of the day that go unnoticed, and ultimately wasted. Whether it’s time during a commute, waiting at the doctor’s office, or a few minutes between larger, more time-consuming, activities, time is valuable. These extra minutes make all the difference, especially if your habit involves learning a new skill. When you are first starting to build your habit, pay attention to the extra minutes of the day that are spent scrolling through social media or twiddling your thumbs. While rest and relaxation are an essential part of a balanced day, these extra minutes are often not used to relax or recharge, and are available for the pursuit of a new habit. In essence, time is precious – use it!

5. Be patient with yourself.

Building a new habit is long, difficult process. Start with baby steps and don’t beat yourself up for falling off the wagon. Any lapses are an opportunity to learn about yourself and what keeps you motivated. No matter what, stick with it and you’ll make it happen!