What’s the best way to maintain a new habit? Whether you’re training for a marathon, want to keep better track of your finances, or want to start eating an apple a day, new habits need some maintenance, or they won’t stick. There are several ways to do this, including:
Use a habit tracker
There are many ways to track your new habit. You can make your own with a sheet of graph paper, or there are resources like this free printable habit tracker from Organize to Excel that you can download.
Of course there are also lots and lots of apps to choose from! Some are free like HabitShare, an app that lets you share your habits with friends, and some are paid like Streaks, which features reminders and statistics and comes in at $4.99.
Make it public
Tell your friends! If you’re trying to maintain a new habit, tell friends, co-workers, and family. It creates a sense of accountability, and people who are in the know can check up on your progress.
Reinforce the habit
When you’ve gotten into the groove and are maintaining your habit well, recognize your progress. Give yourself a gold star! Recognizing your progress is a reward in and of itself; if you look at your habit tracker and see you’ve been killing it every day for a week, you’ll be even more motivated to continue.
Stack the habit
Attach the habit to something you already have down pat. If you want to get into the habit of walking 10,000 steps every day, you can start by parking your car at the far end of the parking lot when you go to work. You’re in the habit of getting to work when you’re supposed to (hopefully!), so bundle it with your new walking habit to make it easier to remember. If you have a new medication to take, put it by your toothbrush so you see it first thing in the morning.
Get right back on the horse if you fall off
Even if you fall off a few times! Breaking a streak doesn’t negate all your hard work. If you miss a day, get back to it the next.
Be persistent and diligent
Keep on trying and don’t give up. The more you practice your habit, the more likely it is to stick with you. Don’t give up if you forget, just keep going. It’s not important to stick to your habit perfectly on the first try; it’s important to be persistent in getting back on track. You can do it!