How To Choose The Habits You Want To Form—And Make Them Stick

We all have habits we'd like to snap our fingers, form, and keep up every day for the rest of our lives. You know which ones we're talking about: Regular exercise, cleaning up a little bit every day so our living spaces never get out of control, eating more vegetables and less sugar, the list goes on and on. 

But if forming these types of habits were that easy, we'd all be doing them. There are tools that can help (hello, Silk + Sonder habit tracker!), but studies show it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to make a habit stick, and that on average it takes 66 days for a habit to become automatic. 

Maybe you formed some awesome new habits in 2019, or maybe that particular task fell to the wayside for one reason or another. Whatever the case, if you're in the process of deciding which habits you want to form in 2020, here's a guide to choosing them.

Start with small habits. 

You know that feeling when you achieve something, and suddenly you feel more motivated than ever to take things to the next level? For example, say you want to become a runner, and you finally run three miles without stopping. Next thing you know, you're signing up for a half marathon. 

As you choose your habits, start with one you know you can achieve. If you want to cook at home more, start by deciding to cook at home once a week instead of every single night. If you're able to keep that up for a full month, you may just feel like you can kick this habit up to twice a week, then three times a week—you get the picture. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. 

Get clear on your why "why." 

So you've decided you want to form a habit of cleaning up your living space every single day. But do you know why you want to become so dedicated to wiping down your counters and putting your shoes where they belong instead of just kicking them off in your hallway? If you don't, you won't get very far with this one.

Maybe your "why" has to do with wanting to feel less frazzled and more relaxed when you come home from work, or maybe it's simply because you don't want to feel stressed out and like you need to do a giant cleanup every time a friend stops by. Whatever the case, make sure you fully understand why you want to from whatever habits you're choosing. If you can't figure it out, maybe it's not the habit for you. 

Pick a habit you've already kind of formed. 

Back to the positive reinforcement thing: In addition to choosing a super small, achievable habit, choose one that's already halfway there, or that you're already kind of good at.  

For example, say you write in a journal every day, but you want to get in the habit of writing in a gratitude journal, too. The habit of journal writing is already there, you just need to add a little something. You know that feeling when you add something you've already checked off your to do list, just so you can mark it as done? It's similar. 

Don't forget to pick a "shoot for the moon" habit.

Of course, padding yourself with positive reinforcement won't help much if you don't add a pie-in-the-sky habit to your list. Do you want to get into the habit of writing fiction every day in the hopes of someday turning it into a novel? Add that to your list, and every time you feel discouraged, look at everything you've already achieved and remind yourself that with some hard work and daily effort, you can make that one happen, too. 

Want to kick your self-care game up a notch? Subscribe to Silk + Sonder today. And while you're at it, tell us what habits you hope to form in 2020. 

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