Habits are part of who we are. And by now, we all know the benefits of creating healthy habits, both emotionally and physically. The benefits are worth it! Especially the one where we just feel good about ourselves.
We’ve all been there, usually at the end of December, when we decide to be healthier and happier in the new year ahead. And of course, those resolutions fail. Not for everyone, but for a lot of us. We start asking Google and Pinterest about new healthy habits and how to start them. We are flooded with articles about how it only takes 21 days to form a new habit.
That magic number, 21 days. Easy! Quick results are what pulls us in. There is a problem with that though – that magic number came from an observation in the 50’s and isn’t exactly current.
A more recent study posted in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that it actually takes anywhere from 18 – 254 days to create a new habit. In fact, the average number of days they came up with is 66. The time it takes will vary depending on the person and the behavior we are trying to change. 21 days is actually more of a minimum when it comes to creating a new habit.
Over the years of working to improve my health and break the bad habits, I’ve tried the 21 days several times. For small things, such as drink a glass of water before my morning coffee, it wasn’t a failure. However, for other stuff, it stuck as well as a New Years Resolution.
Here is what I put to the test and actually worked for me and I hope it can work for you too! Don’t forget to grab the free Creating Healthy Habits printable at the end to help give you a jump start on your journey to creating a healthier, happier you!
Set your expectations realistically!
Plan for at least 2 months to succeed and a little longer for harder habits. Don’t be hard on yourself if the habit isn’t there in 21 days. Remeber, it actually takes on average 66 days. And another tip that goes along with being realistic is not to try to change too many habits all at once.
The first time I tried I had a total of 15 habits on my habit tracker. It was just too much to keep up with at once. Start by writing out a list of all the healthy habits you wish to create. Then choose 5 at most to start with. Make it a mix of small and harder goals. That way when the easy ones become a habit sooner, it will serve as motivational help for the more difficult ones.
Change your focus to long-term planning!
Quick results sound great, but for long-term success, they aren’t. Have a long-term goal and use small wins to work your way up. Want to start working out 5 days a week for an hour? Try starting with a workout 2 or 3 days a week for 20 minutes. Set the next goal for 30 minutes 3 days a week, and so on. Work your way up to the big goal with small wins along the way.
Not all goals will need steps to achieve them, but use this method for the ones that you can. Once upon a time, drinking 6 cans of soda a day was nothing for me. That was WAY too much and bad for me in so many ways. My goal was no more than 1 soda a day. Instead of cutting out so much all at once, I started with small steps. For 3 weeks I cut myself down to no more than 3 a day. Then when that became easy peasy, 2 weeks of 2 a day. Once again, another small win. Then 3 weeks of no more than 1 day. It was so much easier to follow through with. Maybe someday I will go from 1 soda to none, but for now, my little can of happiness is here to stay. One a day is MUCH better for me than six!
Healthy habits can be hard to create, don’t be hard on yourself!
If you miss a day every now and then it’s OK. It won’t affect your results. You don’t have to start over just for missing a day. Keep on going and hit your goal! Using a habit tracker is a way to hold yourself accountable and see your progress. Want some extra accountability? Get a friend to join in with you on this journey and hold each other accountable!
So there you have it, 3 easy tricks to help you follow through on forming new healthy habits! Click the pictures below to be taken to my Free Printables page and get started on your healthy habits today!
What has been your experience with trying to create new habits? What are some methods that have helped you?
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