How to Develop a New Habit and Maintain It

By Mary Smith. Updated: September 5, 2023
How to Develop a New Habit and Maintain It

Those who have good habits, rarely succumb to the temptation to lounge on the couch, order greasy food, or put off tasks. That is because once you develop good habits, you do not need much willpower to make good decisions. That's because autopilot takes over and eliminates temptation from the equation. However, good habits are not easy to build, as they require effort and insight.

Here on OneHOWTO, we will show you how to build and maintain a habit so that you can move forward from where you are to where you want to be.

Determine what your future habit will be and how it will benefit you

Motivating yourself enough to do something is the first step to making it a habit. Once you know what you want to do, set a specific goal. If you set a small, manageable goal, you are less likely to feel overwhelmed and easier to start creating a habit. You can also make a list of all the benefits of making what you want to do a habit. Such a list can be helpful in times of discouragement or laziness. You can read the list repeatedly to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing and all the benefits it will bring in the future.

Plan your initial strategy and prepare for it

Once your goal has been set, consider what will encourage you to follow through. A detailed plan that has cues is much more likely to become a habit. Set a start date at the right time. For example, if you decided to run every morning, you could start this habit during your next vacation when you have more time and energy. Plan your week, what day of the week you will choose, when you will start and how much time you will dedicate to running. Remember that habits are built slowly and over time. Investing in your first piece of exercise equipment can also boost your motivation.

How to Develop a New Habit and Maintain It - Plan your initial strategy and prepare for it

Set concrete, short and achievable goals

Be realistic in formulating your plan. A habit involves the repetition of an action that may cost you initially until you can perform it effortlessly, routinely and, in most cases, with pleasure. The trick to forming a habit is to gradually set yourself small tasks that do not require a lot of effort. Instead of going for a bike ride on the weekend and claiming you can do 100 kilometers, start with attainable goals. A small accomplishment will motivate you to keep going until, for example, cycling becomes a habit you miss, even if you have to skip it for some reason.

Identify potential obstacles

Just as you made a list of the benefits the new habit will bring you, you should also make a list of the obstacles that might tempt you to give up. Once you have created your list of possible excuses, you can identify them as such and combat them to create and stick with a habit. However, if you are really exhausted or the weather is very bad, you may need to adjust your habits that require you to leave the house or consider other options. If we push ourselves too hard and the timing is inconvenient, it can harm us or cause us to reject the habit we want to create and maintain.

Be flexible and keep a positive attitude

It is inevitable that you will encounter moments of discouragement when creating a new habit, so you need to know how to balance willpower and flexibility. Regardless of how well you planned, if one day you did not persevere, nothing happens, do your best to continue as soon as possible. You can build habits by regularly repeating a behavior, but if your routine becomes too rigid, you won't follow through as often. It is therefore crucial to have flexible habits that allow you to do what you need to do regardless of circumstances.

Recognize your achievements and reward yourself

One little trick that can help the habit take hold for good is to reward yourself when you notice your progress. For example, if you have been eating salads and vegetables every night for a week, choosing other healthy options for a night or two can be a reward for your perseverance. When you do this, you'll be more motivated than ever to return to your habit of eating only vegetables. Moreover, you will be more aware of your progress and therefore more motivated to continue.

How to Develop a New Habit and Maintain It - Recognize your achievements and reward yourself

Look for help if necessary

Some people need help creating a habit and keeping it. If your habits revolve around exercise, then getting a personal trainer or going to the gym can be helpful. It's also a good idea to get advice from professionals, such as a dietitian, nutritionist or endocrinologist, if you want to eat healthier.

Additionally, it is helpful to do the habit-forming activity with a partner, your friends, or a group when you first start. Research shows that it makes a big difference if you interact with others and emulate those who have already achieved what you are striving for. This can provide extra incentive to establish and maintain the habit.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Develop a New Habit and Maintain It, we recommend you visit our Learning category.

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