Bad habits are hard to break!

It’s hard to make a new habit stick, but not impossible.  A behavioural scientist at Penn wrote a book called “How to Change”, and posted her five steps for building new habits.

She mainly focused on exercise, but it works for other new habits too.

1.  Set a specific goal.  Don’t make it abstract like, “I want to work out.”  Be more specific like, “I want to work out 30 minutes a day.”  Or instead of “I’ll start meditating,” say, “I’ll meditate 15 minutes a day, four days a week.”

2.  Plan it out.  Saying you’ll work out for 30 minutes is good.  But you’re more likely to stick to it if you also plan WHEN you’ll do it.  Like, “I’ll work out 30 minutes a day, right after my last work meeting.”

3.  Make it fun to repeat.  If you don’t like running, choose something you at least don’t hate.  You can also try combining things you dread with things look forward to.  Like, you can only watch your favourite show when you’re at the gym.

4.  Build in some flexibility.  Give yourself a set number of get-out-of-jail-free cards, when you get to skip your routine.  You won’t always have time, and that’s okay.  Just limit yourself, and don’t start skipping back-to-back days.

5.  Don’t do it alone.  Tell friends and family about your goals to keep yourself accountable, but don’t JUST rely on them.  If you want to start jogging, a running club might be better than jogging with friends who might flake on you.  In general, look for people who are already doing what you want to do.