5 keys to creating a new habit

Let’s say you want to get in shape. For exercise, you’ve chosen walking. You want to make this a habit and stick with it long enough to see results.

Here are 5 things you can do:

  • Choose a goal you know you can meet

You’re trying to create a new habit, not set any records, so your initial goal should be something you are almost certain you can achieve.

Walk three days a week, for example, for 10 or 15 minutes.

Establish the habit first. Once you’re done that, you can increase your target or goal. That’s how I started my walking habit.

  • Commit to a fixed period of time

Some studies show it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. Other studies say it’s 66 days. Choose a period of time, in advance, and commit to it.

  • Make it visible

Put your planned activities on your calendar. Use an app to receive a daily prompt. Put sticky notes on your computer.

Keep the habit in front of your face where you will see it often.

  • Document your progress

Check off each day you complete your activity. You can do this on your calendar or in a “habit-tracking” app.

Once you’ve started, don’t break the chain.

  • Get a workout partner or accountability partner

Find someone who wants to do what you’re planning to do and do it together. Or, check-in at the end of each day or week to share your progress.

Another option is to announce your new habit/goal to someone who will hold you accountable if you don’t stick with it. A spouse, a child, someone at work.

One more thing.

If you find yourself missing a day or breaking the chain, don’t beat yourself up, just start again. I’ve had to do it, more than once.

It’s okay.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, and a good day to start (or re-start) a habit.

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