Your habits can either serve you and improve your life, or sabotage you and diminish your success.
Good habits solve problems and help you achieve your goals. Bad habits take you further away from your goals and can negatively affect your life when they go unchecked for a long time.
In Atomic Habits, James Clear says “habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.” So even if you don’t see the consequences until years down the road, your habits are adding up every single day for good or bad.
That’s why it’s so important to start creating good habits now, it’s like opening up a retirement account, you don’t see the benefits now but you’ll be grateful later. Ultimately, good habits help you become who you want to be. So here are my tips on how to create habits and achieve your goals.
Updated February 2022
How to Build Good Habits for Success
1. What are your intentions?
Set your intentions. What we do everyday is who we are, our habits are our identities and we get to choose who we are (if you struggle with this read my post about changing your limiting beliefs).
So, what kind of person do you want to be in a month, six months, five years?
What habits will support that identity? What does that person do every single day that helped them get to that point? Write down your ideal day in detail then pick a few habits to start working on now. Act as if you are already that person.
“Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally, bad habits make time your enemy.” – James Clear
2. Start with small habits!
Focus on just a few habits at a time. If you try to do too much at once you’ll get overwhelmed and likely quit out of frustration, so pick no more than 3 habits to work on at a time.
Trying to start 10 new goals might seem like a good idea when you’re feeling optimistic and motivated, but when the motivation wears off (and it always will) you’ll be glad to just focus on what’s really important.
3. Make your habits easy
Create systems that will support and enforce the habits you want. Goals give your direction but your systems are what helps you make progress.
You won’t be successful at creating a new habit if you don’t change your environment to support them, after all if you haven’t found success doing what you’re doing now that probably won’t change.
If you want to make going to the gym a habit set out your clothes the night before. If working from home and actually being productive is your goal then you have to minimize distractions so you don’t end up just watching Netflix. To eat healthier you need healthy food on hand and ready to go.
Try setting up reminders of your goals around you. I’ve tried to start new habits before and promptly forgot about them on day 3 because I didn’t have any reminders around me.
The best reminder is a habit tracker that you can print and tape onto your fridge, door, mirror, etc. I use the one below. You can also put reminders on your phone on post its, have a friend hold you accountable, whatever you have to do.
4. Layer your habits
Linking new habits with current habits is a great way to make them an automatic part of your routine quickly and easily.
So, after I do (current habit) I will then do (new habit).
Here are a few examples of habit stacking:
- After I workout I will meditate.
- When I get home from work I will put on my gym clothes.
- As soon as I get home from the grocery store I will meal prep.
- As soon as I get out of bed I will make it.
- After I have breakfast I will take my vitamins.
- After I walk through my front door I will hang up my coat (instead of tossing it on a chair).
5. Don’t expect perfection
None of us are perfect. Being hard on yourself will just lead to you to quitting and “starting over” a hundred times. When you commit to a goal also commit to forgiving yourself for the stumbles that will come, and be ready to get back on track.
Notice where you stumbled without criticism and reassess your systems if needed.
Do you need to adjust anything to make your desired behavior easier? Do you need to create reminders, stack your new habit with an established habit, or remove distractions?
6. Be patient when trying to form new habits
Creating a new habit takes time. If you are willing to put in the time and effort you will see the results. Remember compound interest takes time to add up, your everyday habits do count even if you don’t see the benefit right away.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your perfect diet or workout routine won’t be either. Allow yourself time to form new habits, and resist the urge to give up when things get tough. Progress may be slow at first, but with time and patience, you’ll be able to stick to your goals.
Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes along the way; everyone falls off the wagon occasionally. Just pick yourself up and keep going. The most important thing is to stay motivated and focused on your goal. Be patient while trying to form new habits, and you’ll be successful in the end.
So keep at it and when you’re feeling unmotivated remember why you started and how those habits will get you to who you want to be.
Here are helpful tips to stay motivated.
I hope you found this information on how to create habits and achieve your goals helpful. What habits do you want to develop? What steps are you taking to work on them everyday?