5 Ways to Effectively Set Habits

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Habits play a central role in how we think about wellness. Whether you're trying to eat healthier, go to bed earlier, spend less time on social media, or take better care of yourself another way, it all comes down to setting good habits and sticking to them. The midpoint of the year is a great opportunity to reflect on how you’re tracking when it comes to self-improvement.

If you need an extra boost when it comes to setting habits that will actually stick, here are a few strategies to consider:

Start as Small as You Can

It’s easy to bite off more than you can chew when you’re super motivated to form a new habit. Maybe you’re feeling a renewed energy to get in shape in time for swimsuit season – so you try committing to go to the gym every day. But how likely will that happen overnight? Chances are you’ll quit early on because going from 0 to 60 takes a lot of effort. Be realistic with yourself and start with a smaller and more manageable goal, like a gym session once a week. You’ll feel so accomplished when you reach it that you’ll actually want to keep at it, and maybe even do more.

Track your Progress

If you have a dedicated streak going with your best friend on Snapchat, you already know how a consecutive series can incentivize you to keep at just about anything. Try using an app like Daylio or Coach.me that has a tracking element built in to hold you accountable for your habit-forming progress. Already trying to limit your phone use? Going old school and putting a sticker on your desktop calendar or journal every day you nail your habit can be just as impactful.

Reward Yourself

While in the early stages or forming a new habit, unleash your inner child and reward yourself with a “treat” when you successfully reach a milestone while contributing to your goal. Go a whole week with reading before bed instead of watching tv? Do something special to acknowledge this progress (and remember, self-care doesn’t need to cost money). You’ll soon begin to associate the habit itself with those positive feelings and will crave it.

Find an Accountability Partner

Habit-forming is tough and even the best of us can struggle when attempting to go it alone. Instead, share your goal with someone you trust to have your back AND keep you in line if you start to slip. It’s harder to make excuses when you have to answer to someone other than yourself. For this to work, make sure you’re depending on someone who is committed to checking in with you, and even better if they are already disciplined in the particular habit you are seeking to form.

Identify your Tendency

Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author focused on happiness, habits, and human nature, developed a framework suggesting that we each belong to one of four tendencies when it comes to meeting outer and inner expectations. The four tendencies are Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, and Rebel. Knowing which one you fall under can provide more clarity on why you may be hitting roadblocks in your habit-forming and how you can work around it. Take her quiz to learn which one you are.

Erin Cornell is a twenty-something communications professional and aspiring blogger living in Boston, still trying to figure out this whole “adulting” thing. Follow along to read more of her wellness, style and career advice geared towards millennial women.