I’ve been curious as to the best ways we can make changes stick. One of the best ways to ensure successful habit change is to be clear about your reasons and priorities. And yet, there is often a drive to keep on doing the same things the same way.
There is a reason for this and it’s hard-wired. The brain is equipped for automaticity and economizing efforts. The way to make that work in your favor is to include brain-friendly action steps.
Here are five steps to help make changes stick:
- Make small changes: If your goal is too hard, break it down into easy-to-do steps. Instead of 45 minutes of exercise a day, set out to do 10 minutes a day or one hour a week. You will feel successful and energized to make the next small change.
- Staple it: Tack your change to something else you do regularly. If you log on to your computer each day, set a goal of writing for 20 minutes before opening email. Hitching a behavior to an already embedded one helps you stick to your plan.
- Mornings are best: Whatever change you decide to make, do it before the day gets in the way. Once you let a busy schedule take over your brain, other priorities will interfere. Make your change a priority first thing.
- Don’t decide, just do: Schedule your behavior and don’t waver. Making decisions will deplete mental energy and resolve. Just do it. Or, just start to do it. Once you start, you may decide to complete the action.
- Celebrate it: Give yourself credit for whatever you accomplish. We are often judgmental of less-than-perfect efforts. If you aren’t giving yourself positive reinforcement and mental pats-on-the-back, you will lose enthusiasm.
It’s not rocket science; making changes stick isn’t complicated. Make sure you set meaningful goals, and create a pathway to success. Expect obstacles and distractions. Those who succeed are those who get support from others, are willing to delay gratification, and persist.