8 Steps to Creating and Sticking to a Habit

Part 3 in a three part series, On Promises - Making Them, Breaking Them and Keeping Them - see Part 1 here and Part 2 here!

Cross my heart and hope to die...

I swear on my life...

Pinky promise.

Today I am writing the final installment of my 3 part series, On Promises, Making Them, Breaking Them and Keeping Them.  In Part 1, I reflected on past promises broken and why they didn’t last.  In Part 2, I said out loud the promises I’ve made to myself and to you, dear friend of Everyday Enthusiastic.  Now its time to get down and dirty with action.  How am I going to be that person I promised in Part 2?  In order to be who I want to be, I have to be in tip-top shape in terms of how I feel, how I work and how I live.

The habits I’ll be focusing on for 2015 are:

  • Setting a morning routine to start my day off right
  • Setting an at-home work routine that works with rather than against my life’s roles (stay-at-home mama, wife, need for play and breaks, house responsibilities, etc)
  • Creating a healthier life for myself and family

And now, "no guts, no glory"...how to really make it happen...

8 steps to creating and sticking to a habit

Be specific.

            Create action-forward goals.  If you give yourself a specific task to complete, the goal itself becomes more attainable.  For example, instead of saying I will create a morning routine, I might say, I will get up at my alarm without hitting snooze and I will get ready for the day.

Start small, build on.

            Getting up at my alarm and getting ready for the day might be too much to begin on.  Maybe I just start with getting out of bed without hitting snooze?  By starting small, you are setting yourself up for success.  It is much harder to begin again after a misstep than it is to add on to your goals.

Set a crazy-low minimum daily amount

            Setting a really low amount to accomplish forces you to get passed the toughest hump of all – STARTING!  For most of us, the overwhelm of the start is way more difficult than the task itself.  In terms of my healthier living habit, I will set a goal of 5 minutes of movement every day.  Am I really going to stop after just 5 minutes?  Maybe - but probably not on most days.  And even if I did just do 5 minutes a day it would still be way more than what I’m doing now [which is nothing].

Find what the task comes after

            Building a new habit onto one already in existence allows us to focus our mental energy on other things.  For example, I might say that after I put Vivi down for her nap, I will sit down at my work desk.  Just knowing this series of daily events will allow me to direct my energy towards “what will I work on?” rather than “will I work?”.

Identify where it falls apart

Sometimes the roadblock in your path has little to do with your goal and more to do with outside factors.  I have trouble eating healthy, well-balanced meals for lunch.  When I sat down and really thought about it, the problem I have is that I get so hungry by lunch time, I will just grab anything.  If I make a lunch for myself in the morning well before I hit starvation mode, then I will eat what I have prepared.

Do it everyday

            There is no specific length of time for making a habit stick.  You may find sites that claim after 30 days the habit is permanent – just like magic!  I wish this were true, but unfortunately there is no scientific proof to back this.  How long it takes for a habit to stick within a person’s routine depends on many factors such as the person’s personality, the type of habit, environmental factors, etc.  By doing a habit daily, you increase the probability that the habit will be woven into your routine without you having to think about it.

Focus on the progress, not the fail.

            The intent here is not perfection. Perfect is BORING anyway. The idea here is to create a routine so when life changes things up a bit, you can veer away knowing the routine is there when you return.

What new habits will you be creating for 2015? Which of these steps will you be using to make those habits stick?  I'd love to hear! 

All ideas in this post are of my own opinions including mention of companies and/or affiliate sites.  No sponsorships were involved in the creation of this post.  I would like to thank Gregory Ciotti for his incredible and scientific analysis of habit-forming entitled, How to Build Good Habits (And Make Them Stick), as it was a primary source for this article.  I would also like to thank my awesome sister Allison, who allowed me to annoyingly pose her on our front porch for the shoot five minutes before we left for Christmas Eve dinner.  You're the best, Seester!  Photographs taken by Meredith Wheeler using a DSLR Canon Rebel T3 and edited using Photoshop CC.