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5 Tips for Developing a New Habit

Updated: May 3

Are you wanting a lasting change in some areas of your life but seem to have trouble “sticking with” the changes you are interested in? Maybe you want to exercise regularly, be calmer during conflict, or demonstrate more confidence at work. Developing new habits can be a challenge, but possible with consistent practice.

So how do you go about developing new habits when you are busy and have people and activities competing for your attention?

  1. Identify and prioritize one change that you would like to make Aspiring for change and developing new habits can substantially improve your life and your daily relationships. The new habits that we want to see can also be overwhelming and sometimes unrealistic. Did you fulfill your New Year’s resolution list? If not, consider what may have happened or disrupted the process. In order to sustain new habits, it’s important to first identify a “concrete” change that you want to make, so something specific (e.g., I want to resolve arguments with my partner the same day they occur). It’s also helpful to prioritize one change at a time. It can be unrealistic to demand too much change at one time. The goal with developing a new habit is that it becomes a habit! You want to “go the distance with it” so that you can have consistency with the benefits across time. 

  2. Cultivate practical repetition that works towards the change you want. In order to acquire that new habit, you need to practice. The “practice makes perfect” adage generally applies here. Practicing the changes that you want to be permanent or lasting requires repetition. So how do you commit that to memory? There are various tasks that can help you remember to practice the change that you are seeking. One such task is leaving yourself a reminder(s) in places that you are likely to look on a regular basis, such as your bathroom mirror, cell phone, a cabinet in the kitchen, or on the a/c unit in your vehicle. Leaving a small note for yourself and then reading it means that the change of interest repeatedly crosses your mind on a day-to-day basis. Over time, thoughts around that change become more embedded, and then they become a habit. If your reminder(s) says “I want to go to sleep feeling connected to my partner,” you are more likely to consider and be open to resolving existing tensions between the two of you before you go to sleep. The repetitious thoughts about what you want to change are a large part of the process of acquiring the behavior changes that you want. 

  3. Continue to practice even when it’s difficult So you have identified and prioritized the change that you are interested in, you have left messages or reminders for yourself, and your thinking is primed so that you can participate in the behavior changes. What happens if you still don’t develop the desired change as a new habit? Don’t give up! You can do it! Consider additional repetition or more practice alongside telling a friend about your desired change. It’s possible that feeling socially connected in your effort can help you make it to the finish line. Also, re-evaluate how important this goal really is to you. This will promote feeling re-energized or interested in the goal, which can spark motivation to participate in the behavior changes needed to get there.

  4. Find an attractive way to build a habit If something is not desirable, then you usually have a hard time doing it and would question “why.” When you think about how desirable it is, the more motivated you will be to build a good habit that is long-lasting. Looking at your goals long term, allows you to form good habits as you are more likely to stick to achieving those goals. If you think about yourself in a relationship, how about seeing yourself walking with confidence with your partner? That’s attractive and you feel more motivated to ensure that you form healthy habits to get there.

  5. Prepare for roadblocks. What has stopped you from developing a new habit? Was it fear or shame or maybe not having enough time? Recognize your blockers so that you can identify and know how to manage them if they arises throughout the process of developing a new habit. Reflect on what is hindering you from continuing by avoiding those roadblocks and identify an ally to help you with those goals if needed. Maybe it is a busy schedule that has kept you from exercising. To avoid this, what about blocking at least 30 minutes on your calendar to accomplish that goal?

Overall, developing a new habit can take time, but after identifying and prioritizing a change you want to make, implementing a strategy that puts the goal on your “thinking radar,” and then with continuous practice, you can develop new habits and ultimately an enhanced quality of life. Importantly, it makes sense to be patient with yourself in the process, learn from any setbacks, and try a new strategy moving forward where necessary. 

Remember that new habits can take time to develop, and patience alongside persistence will help you reach your goal!  

For more tips, please check out our other tips here: You can always find us at 954-903-1676 for counseling services. 



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