by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

How to Make New Habits Stick

Cultivate success with these four easy steps to make good habits stick

So, you want to take your life up a notch by building a new habit.

Maybe you want to quit smoking. Maybe you want to become fit. Maybe you want to start meditating or want to journal every morning to begin your day in an empowered way.

Building new habits is part of the fun of being a self-development junkie.

It's thrilling, yes, but also scary. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming and it's definitely always challenging. You've probably tried it before. You've most likely made tons of enthusiastic New Year's resolutions, but after a few weeks (tops!), you've given up, returning to your old ways of living.

I've certainly been there. Not too long ago, I declared proudly and loudly that I'd be a vegan from now on. Well, that lasted about five minutes. The beginning of my new diet was great and I was doing fantastic until the cravings started to kick in and I gave in much too easily. I was disappointed in my lack of follow-through, but instead of throwing in the towel completely, I went about building this new lifestyle in a different way.

Through experimentation, I learned a few killer tips that'll help anyone who is in the process of creating new life-improving habits.

1. Ask yourself how you want to feel

When you resolve to change your life, think about the way you want to feel.

What will change within yourself if you don't have the urge to smoke anymore? How will you breathe, walk and talk? How will it feel if you give your body plenty of greens instead of fatty foods? How will your mood change when you exercise regularly?

Write down a vision of yourself once you're free from your bad habits; be as detailed as possible. Refer back to this list when you feel like giving up -- it will give you a super boost of motivation.

2. Create a trigger

When I started my daily mindfulness practice, I created a tangible trigger: Before taking my first sip of coffee, I was taking three deep breaths, being aware of this very moment.

I don't go without coffee, ever, so, for me, this was a can't-miss way of making sure I didn't neglect my mindfulness habit. If you associate a daily moment with the new habit you're trying to achieve, you'll be less likely to gloss over it. Your trigger can be any occasion from opening your eyes in the morning to driving to work.

3. Start small

Don't go overboard.

If you want to create a meditation practice, then start with 5 minutes a day instead of 30. The same goes for working out. I know that if you're an overachiever like me, you'll want to dive in deeply, but this almost guarantees that you quit the new habit after a few short days. So, start small and build upon it slowly.

4. Immerse yourself in the habit

Letting others know that you're working towards a new goal can help you stick with it.

Social media is a great way to establish the kind of accountability that can keep you committed when the going gets tough. Join Facebook groups, online forums or even start a blog about your new habit. Lift is a free and easy-to-use iPhone app that helps you build new habits. Simply identify the habit you want in your life, create or join the goal and click the "lift" button if you succeed that day. Other users can cheer you on and offer encouragement. The more proactive you are, the better and the more likely it is that your new habit will stay with you for a lifetime.

And don't forget to be kind to yourself throughout the process. Building new habits is no piece of cake and it's okay if you mess up from time to time, as long as you get back up again and keep moving forward.

Woman to Woman - How to Make New Habits Stick

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