How to Create Healthy Habits as an Adult
Updated: Apr 3
Did you make New Year's resolutions this year? If so, how's that going for you? If you're anything like most people, you've probably given up on them already.
Research by Strava, which studied 800 million user-logged activities in 2019, reveals that the majority of people ditch their New Year's goals by January 19th (Strava aptly calls this day the "Quitter's Day.")
Other studies show that up to 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by the second week of February.
Whatever way you look at it, the odds are not in your favor. But here's the thing: it doesn't actually matter whether or not you break (or most likely, have broken) your New Year's goals. According to the University of Scranton, people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than those who don't.
So, if you've failed to keep your resolutions, why not take this time to review what went wrong, set some new goals, and introduce one or two healthy habits into your life that will actually stick? And if you haven't set resolutions in a long time because "what's the point"... well, you should really consider doing so.
Here's how to actually make things happen:
1. Figure out what you want to achieve. It could be losing 10 pounds in the next 6 months. It could be saving $10,000 for a house deposit by February 2022. It could be reading 10 books in a year. Whatever it is, be as specific as possible. None of that "learn how not to give a shit what other people think about me" or "live instead of exist" nonsense. Seriously.
2. Answer the "how?" How will you reach that goal? For example, to lose 10 pounds you could monitor your daily calorie intake via a calorie counting app, exercise 3 to 5 times a week, and even try intermittent fasting.
3. "Stack" your habits. Your current habits, like brewing a cup of coffee first thing in the morning or taking a shower before bed are already ingrained into your brain. One of the easiest ways to make a new habit stick is to pair it with an existing habit. For example, closing your laptop at the end of the work day could become your cue to exercise.
4. Do it every. single. day. You've probably heard it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Turns out, that's kind of a lie.In actual fact, it can take anywhere between 18 to 254 days to create a habit (66 days is the average). The moral of the story? You need to perform the same action EVERY. SINGLE. DAY (or, you know, close to it) for it to stick.
5. Create a "micro-habit." Obviously, you might not always feel like exercising. This is where "micro-habits" come in. Instead of telling yourself that you now have to exercise for the next half an hour, tell yourself that you only have to do 10 squats. If, after the 10 squats you still don't feel like exercising, don't -- 10 squats is still better than nothing and you still kept up your habit. However, you'll probably find that most of the time, you continue on with your exercise after the 10 squats.
6. Make it easy. Leave your exercise clothes out. Set up regular deposits into your savings account. Keep a book on your bedside table. Do everything you can to make your new habit stick.
7. Treat yourself. But be reasonable. For example, eating a chocolate bar after a workout might not be in line with your new identity as a physically fit person. But having a healthy, tasty snack (like yogurt with berries) after dinner might be.
8. Don't be too hard on yourself. This is cheesy, but it's true.Recognize that you're making huge progress anyway -- you can't make a 180 degree life change in a few months.
Care to share your resolutions/goals? And do you have any strategies we haven't mentioned for sticking to your goals? Share them below!