The one thing you can do to make a new habit stick

Capitec Capitec
Making a new habit stick takes a little longer than you think.
Making a new habit stick takes a little longer than you think.

What if we told you that about 40% of everything you do in a day is purely because it’s a habit? Brushing your teeth before bed. Habit. Setting your alarm for the morning. Habit. Making your bed. Habit. Feeding the cat. Habit.

Why then is it so hard to form new, healthy habits, like exercising more, or breaking bad habits, like quitting smoking? Because often our goals are not specific; when goals are specific, they’re often easier to reach. The difference is: “I’ll walk 20 minutes a day” instead of “I’ll get more exercise”.

It’s also not enough to simply have a goal, according to the Harvard Medical School, you also need practical steps to reach it. For example, if your goal is to cut down on snacking, have a plan such as eating smaller meals more regularly instead of 3 big meals a day and constantly snacking in the long stretch between them.

The 21/90 rule

You’ve probably heard someone say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Well, that’s not entirely accurate and omits the second half of the rule. Yes, it takes 21 days to build (or break) a habit but that has to be followed by a further 90 days to make it a lifestyle.

Once you’ve set your goal and defined a strategy, you therefore have to commit to it for 21 days. On day 22 it will be habit. But here’s the trick, you then need to hit repeat for 90 days. In the course of these 90 days, or 3 months, your new habit will become a part of your lifestyle.

5 steps to making (or breaking) a habit

1.    Always start small

Break your goal into smaller goals will make it less daunting. Want to run a marathon? First walk around the block every day. Then jog around the block and build up to running 3km three days a week. Doing too much too quickly will almost definitely end in failure.

2.    Identify your excuse

What’s your excuse? Too tired? Not enough time? Forgot to pack your gym clothes? Once you’ve identified your usual excuses, you can address them.

3.    Address your excuses

If you don’t go to gym because you forgot to pack your gym clothes, pack them the night before. Not enough hours in the day? Put it in your diary and treat it like an appointment.

4.    Don’t worry about failing

Don’t let failure get in your way of success – we all fail at some point. If you missed your morning jog for a day, dust yourself off, accept that you’re only human and go the next morning.

5.    Track your progress

When you measure your progress, you’ll find it easier to stay motivated. For instance, write down how far you’ve run every day. Seeing that it took you 2 weeks to get fit enough to go around the block twice will encourage you to keep going.

Simplify your life, move to Capitec

Another good habit to get into is getting your spending is under control. Move to Capitec and use the banking app to manage your money and budget.

This post and content is sponsored, written and provided by Capitec.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
A Section 89 panel headed by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo found President Cyril Ramaphosa has an impeachable case to answer on the Phala Phala scandal.
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Ramaphosa should do the honourable thing and immediately resign.
23% - 1649 votes
Ramaphosa should follow due process and submit himself to an impeachment hearing.
30% - 2142 votes
Ramaphosa should fight the findings in court and keep his job at all costs
48% - 3461 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.