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How to create a good habit and stick to it

According to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of the resolutions set on New Year’s Eve are broken by February. If you have already failed at keeping the goal you set for 2019, don’t worry. You can still form a good habit (or break a bad one) by following some simple rules to keep you accountable!

Small Steps Add Up

Make sure that your habit is small, specific, and achievable. You can always build on your habits later, but in the beginning stages remember that small steps add up. You don’t want to start by completely depriving yourself from something because you will set yourself up for failure. For example, if you are hoping to reduce your spending so you can make a large purchase in the future, start by brewing your own coffee in the morning and packing your lunches Monday through Thursday.

Use Your Momentum

Try linking your new habit to a pre-existing habit you already have. This will make you accountable and keep you on a regular schedule. Use the formula: [Before/after existing habit], I will [new habit]. So, if you are trying to pack your lunches during the week, you might consider packing your lunch as soon as you finish eating dinner.

Little Rewards Go a Long Way

Reward yourself along the way to reinforce your habit. Most people forget to reward themselves for taking steps towards beneficial habits. Many positive habits, like eating healthier or exercising, do not have immediate obvious rewards, so it is important to reinforce your progress with rewards of your own. If you're trying to pack your lunch Monday through Thursday, you may want to treat yourself to lunch out with friends on Friday. This will keep you from feeling deprived so you are more likely to stick to your goal.

Never Miss Twice

You are going to slip sometimes. Just because you fell off the wagon one day doesn’t mean that you failed and should give up. Try following the “Never miss twice” rule to give you enough flexibility to make mistakes, but inspire you to get back on track the next day. Maybe you had a rough morning and bought yourself coffee on the way to work and went out for lunch today. No problem. Tomorrow you will brew your own dark roast and pack your leftovers to eat. It’s okay to fail, just make it a goal not to do it two times in a row.

Forming a new habit can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Make sure you set up specific goals and have realistic expectations. Reward yourself as you make progress, and stop expecting perfection. Habit forming is a journey, and you are going to make mistakes along the way. Don’t beat yourself up, just do better the next day and remember why you wanted to adopt the habit in the first place.

You've got this.