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3 Easy Ways to Make New Habits Stick

Set yourself up for success as you incorporate positive changes into your routine.

New habit
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“True life is lived when tiny changes occur,” said the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. When I think of “tiny changes,” I think about the process of examining my daily habits and adjusting them in a more positive, healthy, and peace-supporting direction. It’s the little changes that often make the biggest difference.

But I’ve lived long enough to have attempted to establish new habits—and get rid of old ones—many times. And I know that in the process, I’m prone to make mistakes. Maybe you too have had a “resolution” that went sideways, or a new habit that just wouldn’t seem to stick.

Read More: How to Cultivate Positive Habits That Last

During this season of reflection and rededication, let’s stay aware of common pitfalls and set ourselves up for success with positive changes, “tiny” or otherwise.

Here are three areas to focus on.

1) Know the “Why”

To succeed in starting a new habit, or letting go of an old one, we must be clear on what’s at stake. Why do we want to listen to classical music on our commute, rather than the news? What is our reason for keeping heart-healthy nuts on hand rather than potato chips? Why is it important to us to walk to the mailbox around the corner rather than leaving it in our doorway slot? Being intentional about the purpose behind our changes is a motivator, especially in those early days when we can get tired of reminding ourselves to stay the course.

Read More: 7 Daily Habits to Reach Your God-Sized Goals

2) Don’t Give Up Too Quickly

Ironically, a hallmark mistake when it comes to starting new habits is to be unable to tolerate having made a mistake. Say you are trying to do five minutes of stretching every morning before your shower. Then one rainy Wednesday you hit the snooze button and skip it. Don’t declare failure. Acknowledge that change takes time, and that if you are committed to a new routine, you can return to it with a fresh-start mindset.

Read More: 9 Healthy Habits You Can Actually Stick With

3) Change One Thing at a Time

In science, researchers know not to change more than one variable at a time—the same is true with habits. If you make too many changes at once and notice improvements in your life, how will you know which new habit made the biggest difference? If that’s not persuasive enough to hold you back from launching too many new habits at once, consider this: Change is hard; multiple changes are harder. Take in the satisfying feeling of succeeding with one shift in your routine before you dive into the next. It will build your self-confidence, and you’ll be clear on what’s actually helping, and what you can let go of.

Have you noticed other common mistakes when you’ve tried to start new, healthy habits?

Read More: How to Turn Your Goals into Habits

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