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Making resolutions stick

With these tips, you will turn your New Year's resolutions into long-lasting healthy habits.

You’ve probably heard it a few times: It would take 21 days for a new habit to stick. Well, that’s a myth… The average time it takes to form a new habit is actually about 66 days. But of course, everyone is different.

The good news is that no matter what the magic number of days is for you, every day you stick with it, your healthy choices will get easier. Habit strength should be seen on a continuum. After as little as two weeks you may find new habits starting to feel more like second nature, even if they still take some effort.

With these tips, forming new habits becomes a bit easier.

Be specific
No matter what your goals are – eating better, getting in shape, reducing stress – make sure that you have a specific plan. Don’t just say you’re going to ‘start running.’ Instead, plan a time and a day for it, for example ‘Every Monday after work, I will go for a run’.

By doing this, you form a new association with your habit. Which means every time you go for a run after work on a Monday, that association is strengthened. Eventually, it will become automatic.

Be positive
Sometimes good habits are really about breaking bad habits. It is simply not possible to form a habit for not doing something. Ending a bad habit, like smoking or eating fried foods every day, will likely require a new behaviour to compete with that existing bad behaviour.

The very nature of a habit is that once it’s locked in, it’s difficult to shift. You try to battle against your own automatic processes.

What you really do is stop yourself from responding to an impulse. Don’t simply say you’re going to give up afternoon potato chips. Plan for what foods you will replace the chips with.

Start simple
Ingraining new habits is hard work. And the more complex the habit, the longer it usually takes to settle in. For example, drinking an extra glass of water daily will probably be easier than finding 30 minutes every day for a new exercise routine. So get started by breaking those more complex goals into simpler, smaller goals. That might mean adding reminders to your calendar to work out at set times for the first month. As long as you’re motivated, over time your new habits will develop.

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Making resolutions stick

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