It’s that time of year again. Pumpkin Spice lattes, woolly sweaters, and of course new healthy habits!

Fall is my favourite time to take stock and look at what healthy habits I want to implement for myself and my family. It might include adjusting bedtimes, meal planning, daily yoga practices, exercise routines, journaling or anything really.

Right now, it’s getting Magnus back to an earlier bedtime, getting our family routine done pat before school starts, and recommitting to my daily meditation practice.

None of these things can happen by accident or trying to “fit it in.” Everyone has tried “fitting in” new habits into their lives and it works as well as New Coke did at replacing regular Coke. It didn’t.

Habits are tricky to make and even trickier to break. No wonder there has been and continues to be so much research on how to master them.

Here are 6 simple research backed steps to successfully create habits that stick so that you can get out of the “effort” and into the automatic stage of your habits quicker and with more ease. Let’s use the example that I want to start a daily meditation practice.

  1. Make a plan. Figure out exactly what outcomes you want for this habit. Then ask yourself logistical questions. What time would I meditate? What type of meditation? How long would I sit for?
  2. Schedule it in. Scheduling makes it real. We’ve all had the experience of “fitting it in,” which never works. It has good intentions but not much action. For your brain to see it as important, you must schedule it into your life. Then, even if you need to reschedule, your brain will look for opportunities to make it happen.
  3. Make your Plan B. Ask yourself what obstacles you might encounter and plan for them. This is critical. We have real lives and real obstacles that come up all the time. I might plan to meditate at 6am every day before my family wakes up, but then what do I do when my son wakes up at 5:30am? These are things we need to plan for in advance to keep us on track.
  4. Gather support. We are way more accountable to others than ourselves. Getting some people to join you in your new habit helps with support and account increasing your likelihood of completing your goal by over 43%. That’s HUGE in the goal setting world. Especially since most 5 day challenges I’ve held has the majority of participants falling off the wagon by day 3.
  5. Focus on today. The thought of doing something forever or even 30 days can be overwhelming and stressful. It’s too much. Shift your focus to completing just today and then recommit to doing it again tomorrow. It’s way more manageable and you’ll feel more in control.
  6. Reward yourself daily with praise. Acknowledging that you did your new habit not only makes you feel good about yourself it rewards you with a sense of completion and gives you the motivation to keep at it tomorrow.

Please excuse me now, I’m heading to my room for my daily meditation! In the meantime, let me know in the comments what habits you’re excited about for yourself and your family today.