5 Tips for Building New Habits that Will Actually Last

Have you ever tried to form a new habit? Whether it’s drinking enough water every day, working out more often, or eating healthier, building a new habit isn’t a small undertaking. And, unlike other things in life, it’s not just the “getting started” part that’s hard - it’s the beginning, middle, and follow-through.

On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic - 66 days to be exact.

It may be difficult and long, but building new good habits is far from impossible. Here are 5 tips to help you form a new good habit that will actually last.

  1. Do it for YOU - Don’t worry about all of the habits that you “should” have, if that is your motivation for change then it won’t last. Make sure the goals you are setting really motivate and excite you, that’s the only way you’ll succeed long term.
  2. Start Simple - Setting goals is very exciting and it can be tempting to bite off more than you can chew. Make sure you start small and build on your successes. For example, if you want to read for 2 hours a day, start off by making a habit of reading for 15 minutes a day and build on that.
  3. Get a Buddy - Everything in life is more fun when you do it with a friend and, in the case of building habits, it’s actually more effective! Find a friend who will partner with you on your journey to keep you motivated even when you feel like quitting.
  4. Replace Rather than Delete - If your goal involves giving something up try replacing it with a healthy alternative instead of deleting it altogether. For example, if watching TV was your way of relaxing but you want to cut down on how much time you spend in front of the screen, you could take up meditation as a way to satisfy that need.
  5. Manage your Expectations - The quickest way to fail is to expect yourself to be perfect. Building a new habit takes time and it will absolutely include a few failures along the way. If you expect yourself to be perfect right out of the gate then you’ll be disappointed the first time you mess up and you may be more want to quit altogether. Manage your expectations and don’t judge yourself for messing up. 

While building a new habit is one of the most difficult things you can do, it’s also one of the most rewarding. The feeling you have when you realize that something you have been consciously choosing to do for weeks is suddenly something you automatically do is exhilarating. But, the journey there can be hard to traverse alone. If you need someone to support you while you build a new set of habits, I’d love to help. You can email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.