Good Habits: Making Them Stick

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Good Habits: Making Them Stick

If you are used to doing the wrong thing, it will become a habit too and this can affect your entire personality / Photo by stokkete via 123RF


Many have tried to change their habits to get rid of the bad ones. Some habits include going to bed late, too much spending, eating late at night, and many more. There are certain behaviors that we want to change and it is easy to identify which of these do we want to correct. However, making the changes and being consistent are the parts that are not so easy to do.

There are many chances to change bad habits and turn them into good ones. There are many holidays, New Years and even birthdays where we promise to change for the better. What motivates people to change and how can they remain motivated to see through the change that they want for themselves?


The Science Behind Good and Bad Habits

The way we act, think, and feel over a period of time form our habits and they become embedded in our memory as well. There are different types of memory classifications but the most important is procedural memory, which is the formation of habits.

Under behavioral psych, there are three primary types of learning: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning.

Classical conditioning or the Pavlovian conditioning was discovered by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist. It is learning through association. There is conditioning when there are two stimuli that are linked to create new learning.

Operant conditioning was developed by American psychologist B.F. Skinner. This learning results from positive or negative reinforcement or by using a reward or punishment system.

Observational learning was developed by Albert Bandura, another American psychologist. He believed that people learn habits by observing others.


MIT researchers have found out that neurons that fire at the beginning and end of a certain behavior cause the start of the formation of habit. Neurons start to fire at the start of new behavior, slow down during the behavior, and then fire again after the behavior is finished. As this pattern happens, a behavior is formed. This makes it hard to break a habit.


How to Develop Good Habits

Human beings can easily learn new things. Using it daily can turn these things into habits. They come naturally and are already a part of you. You no longer have to think about them as you do them. If you are used to doing the wrong thing, it will become a habit too and this can affect your entire personality.

The good news is that bad practices can still be corrected, as long as you are willing to train yourself to do the right thing. It may not be easy at first but if you are really serious about making a change within yourself, then you have to commit to change. How can an individual improve good habits and stick to it?

Set a plan

When you want to develop new habits, create a plan. Set goals that are reasonable and attainable. Don't make a plan that is hard to reach. You will end up disappointed.

Set rules for yourself

Set rules for yourself and make sure to stick to them. After planning, set some rules on what you will do when a situation comes up, with emphasis on the new habit that you want to build. Making the new habit regular will turn it into a routine.

Visualize the goal

Visualize the thing that you want to achieve at the end. For every goal, seeing the end result can be helpful in pushing you in the right direction. You can also set the steps that you need to take in order to achieve what you want.

Get support

Keep close family and friends in the loop of what you are trying to do. They are the ones who can give encouragement and support. In case you lose your way toward your goal, they will keep you back on track.

Don't hurry

Every person has their own pace in achieving the goals. Don't compare yourself with others. Take it slowly and ease into the new habit. It is not a race.

The way we act, think, and feel over a period of time form our habits and they become embedded in our memory as well / Photo by rawpixel via 123RF


Know the things you want to change

Recognize the things that you want to change. Assess the bad habits that you think need to go away and focus on the good habits that must be acquired. This will eventually lead you to recognize the possible challenges that you will encounter in the future.

Develop a routine

Having a routine is important because eventually, you will become used to it and it will turn into a habit. Repetition is the key to making good habits stick.


Don't forget to recognize the efforts you have made as you journey to your goal. Developing new habits and doing away with bad habits is not an easy feat. So take the time to celebrate your success and reward yourself.

The most important thing is to know yourself to make that change last. There are no set rules that apply to all. It will still depend on your personality and the reasons why you want to change. Do not be discouraged when you encounter hardships along the way. Just pick up where you left off and move on.