We all want the best for ourselves, but old habits often get in the way. There’s no shame having bad habits.  They are a part of being human.  We humans don’t like to lose and want immediate gratification.  That’s what makes it so hard to drop our bad habits.  We don’t want to fail and we don’t want it to take time.

I believe that the best way to make any change is to get informed, recruit support and then get to work.  Here are a few ways to break your old habits and create helpful new ones.

Start doing your great new habit a lot for a few weeks

So you want to start a working out, go more frequently than you think you would.  In a University of Chicago study a few years ago, researchers found that when we get ourselves to try something new intensively for as little as a month, we can make a lasting behavior change. You can’t promise yourself to stick with that new habit for long, there’s a huge benefit in putting in a burst of energy for a few weeks — it may pay off for longer than you think.

Define your goal clearly and how you will measure it

If your goal is just “to read more” it’s tough to know when you hit it.  But if you say “I want to read a new book each month”, it’s easy to know you have done it or not.  Make sure your goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, Time Sensitive.  Check out this blog post to see more about setting SMART Goals here:

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Make your goal big and sexy

  1. The science is clear – we are more motivated to hit tougher goals than small easy ones. Your goals affect your performance. When you’re told to “just do the best you can”, you are less likely try as hard to achieve your goal.  Bigger challenges cause you to create a strategy, be more persistent and get moving.

Give yourself a “do-over” or two

  1. If you don’t stick with your new habit don’t beat yourself up. Most people give up on their New Year’s resolutions after one misstep.  According to a UCLA Study, giving yourself permission to miss a few times on the way to your goal actually helps you to meet your goal.  So you missed a few days on your gym schedule or ate the cake at your office party, it’s okay that was just a setback. Just keep going without all the self-judgment and self-criticism.

Raise the stakes to help you stay on track

Humans work harder when something is at stake like money or your reputation.  According to Stickk.com, a website designed by professors at Yale University, using a commitment contract can triple your chances for success. Check out their free goal-setting platform that allows you to set your goal, timeline, commitment contract and put something at stake.

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