Creating new habits can be hard. After a year of working hard on habits and goal setting, I learned a lot that I want to share.
Forming new habits can be hard. Between life getting in the way and getting in our own way I think most of us fail a few times while trying to create new habits.
I tend to do really well for awhile and then something habits, I get off track and I don’t get back on track, at least for awhile. This past year I did a much better job sticking to the habits I was trying to create and my goals in general. I wasn’t perfect but I made more progress than I have in years past and I’m hoping to make this year even better.
Exercising more was one of my big goals last year. My health had not been great and I needed to lose weight. Both of those areas have improved and I’m seeing a lot of progress. This is a goal I’m still working on and hoping to increase my efforts this year. I have other habits I’m still working on as well but this is the really big one.
Creating New Habits
After a more successful year, I want to share what strategies helped me and some resources that I have used.
1. Set a SMART Goal
Why do you want to form the new habit? What is your overall goal? For me, with exercising I wanted to improve my health and lose weight.
One thing that really helped me with goal setting is learning about SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound steps.
- Specific: This is the who, what, why, when, and where of your goals.
- Measurable: How much, how many, and how will I know when I’ve accomplished my goal?
- Attainable: How will I reach my goals and is the goal realistic?
- Realistic: You want to push yourself but also make sure you can reach your goal.
- Time-Bound: Deadlines help us stay motivated.
Additional resource: Creating Smart Goals with Free Printables
2. Have an Accountability Partner
Telling someone your goal and asking them to check in with you can help keep you on track. We don’t like to disappoint people so knowing we’d have to let someone know we didn’t stick to our plan can help motivate us.
When I started exercising more my husband helped keep me accountable. He is someone I trust and he is into fitness himself so it worked well. He also helped me create my fitness plan when starting out.
I would let him know each day I worked out and he was very encouraging about my progress. He also would remind me to get back on track if something got me off track like an illness.
Now I can largely stay on track myself but he does ask how it’s going from time to time. I want to be able to tell him it’s going really well so that still motivates me to work hard.
3. Push Past Setbacks
I have had many setbacks this last year. I have had asthma attacks, a cold, and back issues. When possible I still did yoga to make sure I was doing something active but there were times when even that wasn’t possible.
In the past, I would have lost my progress and taken forever to get back to it. This year I did a better job of getting back on track after a setback.
When you have a setback tell yourself it’s okay because you are getting right back to it. Don’t let yourself make excuses like “well I missed a day I should just take the week off.” That week may become a month. Take that one day but get right back to it.
4. Reward Yourself
Rewards can really help motivate us. One reward I gave myself when starting out was a massage when I reached a weight loss goal. I was sore and really wanted that massage so that helped me push myself.
New clothes are also a reward I give myself that is practical as well. As I lose weight my clothes are getting too big and I let myself buy new pieces.
Think of a reward that you really want and will help you push yourself to meet your goal. Write that reward down somewhere you will see it often so you remember that motivation.
5. Track Your Progress
Keeping track of my progress also helps me. To start I was using star stickers in my planner each day I worked out. Now that I have multiple habits I like to track I like to use a habit tracker.
I first saw habit trackers in bullet journals but bullet journaling is not my thing so I wanted one for my Happy Planner. I used the same type of layout I’ve seen for bullet journaling. You simply list your habits and color in a box for each day of the month that you followed through with the habit.
It’s nice to see at the end of the month how well you did at staying on track with your habits. It’s great for both new habits and making sure you stick to ones you already created.
I’ve created a free habit tracker printable that you can use as well. It’s very simple so you can decorate it yourself if you’d like or leave it as is.
Simply print it out, fill in the month, days and your habits and get started. I like to use a different color for each habit to make it easier to see which habits I’m doing well with.
The printable is US letter size but it’s very easy to resize for other planners. I resize it for my Happy Planner to add it to the planner. Click here for how to resize for a Happy Planner and here for resizing to other planner sizes.
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These are some of the books on time management (because you need time to meet your goals) and goal setting that I’ve enjoyed as well and some that are on my to-read list this year.