The power of habit cannot be underestimated. Creating and maintaining good habits (especially good green habits!) can add satisfaction, joy, consistency and discipline to your daily life. And, an established habit can have the power to help you reach short and long-term goals ─ whether they are green goals or whether they are personal, professional, or financial goals.
Here are steps that can help you develop good green habits and habits of any other color!
How to Make a Habit Stick
- Target a habit. Make a conscious decision to create a habit that will make you, your home, your community and the world a better place.
- All sizes welcome. It’s okay to target small habits and goals. Small changes can lead to big results!
- Put it on paper. Seeing your goal on paper makes it real.
- Find a trigger. A trigger is something that makes you remember to do something, such as a particular time (say, every day at 8 a.m.), an activity (right after you put on your shoes, recycle your paper) or a place (the area next to the kitchen sink for a compost bowl) or a thing (the compost bowl).
- Commit to 30 days. Research shows it only takes about 4 weeks to establish a good habit, so it’s wise to start with a 30 day commitment. However, some habits stick in two weeks and others can take 60 days or more.
- Use affirmations. Create a simple list of positive affirmations and chant them to yourself or say them aloud or make an audio recording. Practice your affirmations first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
- Practice each day. Routine is important to make a habit become stick. The more often you do your habit, the more likely you are to succeed.
- Allow for failure. If you happen to miss a day, forgive yourself and don’t give up. Keep going!
- Use cues. Place reminder notes or meaningful photos on your refrigerator, light switches, bathroom mirror, computer screen and other places throughout your home or business–yellow stickers work great and so do phone alarm apps and email calendar reminders!
- Practice early or late. It’s easier to practice a new habit in the morning (before the day gets hopping) or late in the day (when the dust has settled) because mid day is oftentimes busier.
- Visualize success. Close your eyes and imagine yourself performing your new habit over and over until it seems natural and normal.
- Keep a journal. Chronicle your success each day by placing an X on your calendar or filling a page or even just a line in a notebook.
- Pat on the back. When you reach your goal, choose a positive, healthy reward that makes you happy. The reward could be anything from marking an X on your calendar (see Keep a Journal above), saving money, or toast with a long, tall glass of ice water.
Most people find that it takes about 30 days to make a habit stick. However, some habits can take only a few days to establish, while other habits can take quite a bit longer longer, sometimes up to 45 to 60 days. You know your habit is established when it has become a normal part of your everyday routine.
Do you have any tricks or tools that have the power to make a habit stick?