Good habits can improve long-term health. However, it can be challenging to stick to new habits in the short-term. Plenty of New Year’s resolutions fizzle out by February.
Fortunately, a good amount of research has been done on habit formation. It appears to take around 10 weeks (on average) for a new, healthy habit to become automatic. There is some variation due to how complex the habit is and when it is performed.
A simple template has been developed to help establish new habits:
Make a new healthy habit
- Decide on a goal that you would like to achieve for your health.
- Choose a simple action that will get you towards your goal which you can do on a daily basis.
- Plan when and where you will do your chosen action. Be consistent: choose a time and place that you encounter every day of the week.
- Every time you encounter that time and place, do the action.
- It will get easier with time, and within 10 weeks you should find you are doing it automatically without even having to think about it.
- Congratulations, you’ve made a healthy habit!