Four Tested Ways to Form New Habits that Last

Four Tested Ways to Form New Habits that Last

7 minute read

It’s easy to list all of the things you wish you did everyday, without having to drag yourself to do it. So maybe you didn’t hit the gym for an hour every day this week, or made it to that sunrise hike you’ve always wanted to try. Well here is your reminder that just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it’s never going to! If you’re looking to revamp some old habits with some new, better commitments, here are some research-backed methods to help you begin. 


1. Add the new habit to existing habits. 

Experts agree that one of the easiest ways to form a new habit is to start the new habit where you already have a typical routine. Usually, people have a pretty solid morning routine that is full of little habits you may not even realize are habits! You probably wake up, brush your teeth, grab a cup of coffee, eat breakfast, brush your hair, etc, in some particular order each morning. This is a great time to start adding in a new healthy choice until it also becomes a habit!

Healthy habit recommendation: A daily sunscreen. One of the best, healthiest new habits you can form is wearing a daily sunscreen all year round. Your skin is exposed to harmful rays from the sun every day, even when you’re not aware of it, and keeping it protected with a lightweight daily sunscreen of at least SPF 30 is a big part of preventing skin cancer, decreasing aging, and helping your skin stay healthy for years to come. We can’t stress how important this is! If you’re in the market for new habits, start here. 

Overwhelmed by the options for daily sunscreens, and not sure which one to try? The Daily by GetMr is a great option formulated for men and doubles as a moisturizer/ aftershave (hello, easy habit formation)! Just swap out your moisturizer/aftershave for this product; you can get your free trial here

2. Form an action plan with reasonable goals

It’s important to understand that new habits aren't formed overnight (duh!) and you need to give yourself some reachable goals along the way so that you don’t get so discouraged that you give up entirely. Don’t tell yourself that starting tomorrow, you’ll never eat processed sugar again. That goal has a high-chance of failure! 

If you are trying to eventually reach an ambitious goal like that, give yourself stepping stones along the way. Swap out three snacks in your week that include processed sugar, change three items containing processed sugar on your grocery list to something sugar-free, or identify one time during your work that you most crave sugar and plan something to distract yourself when the craving hits. 

This is just an example! Whatever your long term goal is, don’t be afraid to start small. Implementing smaller, more reachable new habits will eventually help you towards the overhaul you’re looking for, if that’s your end goal. But don’t underestimate the power of tiny changes! These aren’t merely boxes to check off towards success, but successes in and of themselves. So celebrate little victories all along the way, and watch how much easier it is to stay motivated for the long-haul.

Healthy habit recommendation: Take a daily probiotic. Each morning when you wake up, take a probiotic before you eat breakfast or drink your cup of coffee. Whether you keep the bottle by your bed and take it first thing, set it by your keurig to remind you before coffee, or throw it in your purse to take on your commute, figure out how to implement it into the routines you already have so that it will stick! 

And remember, start small. Set a goal for taking it 3 out of the 7 days this week, and work up from there! A probiotic is a great way to help heal your overall health. We consider that a win win!

3. Don’t buy into the 21 day rule. 

There’s a good chance you’ve heard the saying that it takes 21 days, or three weeks, to form a new habit. Turns out, this just isn’t true! This came from a popular plastic surgeon, Maxwell Maltz, in the 1950’s who noticed a pattern of patients who took about 21 days to get used to their new features or who experienced phantom limb syndrome after an amputation for about this length of time. Unfortunately, while Maltz wrote about this and said he believed it took a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit, many self help titans around that time popularized the slightly altered version of it taking just 21 days to form a new habit. 

To test this widely accepted new rule of thumb, researchers at University College London performed their own study that found that it took, on average, 66 days to form a new habit! That’s over two months, and a lot longer than 21 days. If 21 days have passed and the new habit just doesn’t feel totally habitual yet, don’t get discouraged. Turns out, new habits aren’t formed overnight, or even in three weeks. Some participants in the UCL study took 254 days. There isn’t a universal timeline! 

Our healthy habit recommendation: Swap out one processed snack for a piece of fruit or veggie each day, and track it using a “healthy habits” journal. Eating more fruits and vegetables is great for your body and the planet, and this is an easy habit to start tracking in a daily journal to get you in the practice of writing down your goals to hold yourself accountable. If you want to feel better and look better, start picking up a vegetable or fruit-based snack instead of that bag of potato chips and make a note on your calendar or in your journal to see how you are progressing in your habit formation.

4. Don’t give up because you missed one day. 

Feeling discouraged because you messed up one week, two weeks, one month into your new commitment?Don’t let a little moment of discouragement end what could be years of better choices! In the long run, missing one day just simply won’t matter, but it will matter if it’s the reason you give up. Instead of feeling like quitting, just tell yourself that tomorrow is a new day! Nobody forms a new habit perfectly, or we’d need a lot less tips and tricks to make them stick.

Our healthy habit recommendation: Take a 10 minute walk at a specific time each day. Whether it’s on your lunch break, in the morning when you first wake up, or right when you get home from work, try to give yourself more time to get out and take a walk. A 10 minute walk a day is a great small habit to form on a path towards being more active, and we promise you will feel better getting the fresh air! 

You are totally capable — don’t count yourself out before you even get started!

Healthy new habits are always worth the time and intentionality you put into forming them. If there’s a voice in your head telling you that it’s too late to reshape your habits, or you won’t have the willpower, don’t listen to it! Science has spoken — it’s just not true. No matter what age you are or how set in your ways you have become, it turns out that young and old dogs can learn new tricks. Try out these four science-backed methods to get yourself started, and remember that sooner you get started, the sooner you have a life marked by small but mighty habits. 

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

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