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3 Quick Tips to Form a Healthy Habit That Sticks (According to Science)

healthy habitsTo break a bad habit, you need to replace it with a good habit.

Doesn’t sound like rocket science, right?

But you know what they say, “old habits die hard.” That’s because forming healthy habits is tough. You can’t do it with willpower alone.

Here are 3 science-proven strategies for creating behavior changes that stick.

#1: Go public with your goal.

Telling your friends and family members about your plan to eat healthier, exercise, lose weight, etc. can increase your odds of forming a healthy habit. A famous study by researchers Deutsch and Gerard found that people who make their intentions public are less likely to shift from those positions later.

So spread the word about the behavior you’re trying to change. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find a workout partner so you motivate each other and have someone to hold you accountable when you don’t feel like working out. Get your kids to help you prepare healthy meals in the kitchen. The more you can get your friends and family members involved in your strategy, the better.

#2: Commit to exercise every day … even if it’s for just 5 minutes.

Look, I know it’s hard to find time for exercise. You come home after a long day at work and just want to relax on the couch.

Here’s how you overcome your inner “couch potato” voice: commit to exercise just 5 minutes every day. In the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini says, “Once a stand is taken, there’s a natural tendency to behave in ways that are stubbornly consistent with the stand.”

And multitasking can come in handy. You can still get a quick workout in and be productive while you watch TV. Even on days when you don’t feel like it, taking 5 minutes to stretch, do pushups, or walk on the treadmill can add up and make a HUGE difference. Once it becomes a habit, you’re set.

#3: Start small.

Stanford researcher BJ Fogg says that only 3 things will help you break an unhealthy habit:

  • Having an epiphany
  • Changing your environment
  • Taking baby steps

The easiest way for most people to transform unhealthy behaviors into healthy habits is to start small. Fogg’s method is simple, and I highly recommend it:

1. Identify the specific behaviors you want to change (i.e., “stop drinking soda” or “exercise at least 3 days a week”).

2. Find ways to make the behavior change easy (i.e., “I won’t keep soda in my house” or I’ll start exercising 5 minutes a day”).

3. Trigger the behavior (i.e., “I’ll pour a glass of water before I start preparing any meal” or “I’ll place my gym bag next to the door so it’s the first thing I see when I get home from work”).

So what are you waiting for? Take those first baby steps today!

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Comments

  1. Have you read “The Power of Habit – why we do what we do in life and business” by Charles Duhigg. Gives some great food for thought about habits and how we can create habits that serve us better. Worth a read

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