How to Keep Your Resolutions to Change Unhealthy Habits

If you find it difficult to stick to any proposed changes in your unhealthy habits, in this article, you'll find some tips that'll really help.
How to Keep Your Resolutions to Change Unhealthy Habits
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

It happens at the beginning of every January and often every Monday morning. You resolve to change your unhealthy habits. You want to eat healthier, play more sports, start meditating, or study harder. Indeed, you’re totally convinced that you want to make these changes. However, within a few days, you find yourself repeating the same old routines that you wanted to eliminate.

What’s happened? Well, intention alone just isn’t enough. Motivation is what gets you started, and habit is what keeps you going. Therefore, the momentum you start with tends to fade after a few days. This means that establishing a healthy habit isn’t easy, but there are some tips that can help you achieve it.

1. Find your strategy

When it comes to establishing new habits, you should reflect on your own personality. That’s because there are two different strategies you can use and only you’ll know which one will work well for you.

For example, you could face one challenge at a time. Because if you want to eat healthier, exercise, and quit smoking, making all of these changes at once can be overwhelming. In fact, the demand on you might be so great that you end up abandoning them all. If this sounds like you, choose the objective that seems most relevant to you and start with that one only. Later, when about a month has passed and you’ve established your new habit into your routine, you can add the rest.

On the other hand, you may feel that bringing all your goals together drives you to achieve them. If this is the case, feeling that you’ve adopted a healthier routine in all areas of your life will increase your motivation.


2. A long-distance race

You often start with excessive enthusiasm. However, this is difficult to maintain, and you end up burning out after a short time. It simply isn’t realistic to go from a totally sedentary lifestyle to running daily for more than an hour. You need to keep in mind that changing your unhealthy habits is a long-distance race and not a sprint. That’s why you need to know how to manage your energy and have realistic expectations.

You should begin with making small efforts and gradually increasing them. For instance, you could start by adding a piece of fruit a day to your diet or meditating for 15 minutes three times a week. In this way, it’ll be easier for you to meet your objectives and be consistent.

3. Design your environment

Many of your daily behaviors are triggered because certain stimuli are present in your environment. Therefore, to modify your behavior patterns, you have to modify your environment as well. For example, if you want to eat more healthily, you shouldn’t have unhealthy foods at home. In the same way, if you want to be more responsible and consistent academically, you must turn off your cell phone when you’re studying.

Controlling environmental stimuli will have a positive impact on your ability to maintain your purpose. Make it easy for yourself by removing any unnecessary temptations.

4. Create a routine

When you decide to change your unhealthy habits, there are two key aspects that can help you increase your commitment. Firstly, it’s extremely positive to establish a fixed schedule. In this way, you give the new habit a place in your daily routine. For example, you might decide to meditate every morning when you get up or to study for two hours every afternoon.

Secondly, sharing your goal with others favors mutual motivation and perseverance. For instance, if you know that you’ve arranged to go for a walk with someone else, the commitment you’ve made will make you comply even though you may be feeling lazy and don’t really want to go at all.

calendar habits

5. Reward yourself

Instead of focusing on an end goal that seems unattainable, break your purpose down into small, easy-to-achieve goals. In this way, verifying that you’re achieving what you set out to do will increase your self-confidence and your motivation to continue. Don’t forget to reward yourself for each advance and each effort. In fact, remind yourself that each step you take is bringing you closer to your goal.

6. Enjoy the process

Any change you implement must be approached from a positive perspective. Make sure you’re only changing your unhealthy habits because you love yourself and want to be healthier and happier. Don’t ever change them for other people. Finally, adopt a positive attitude and try to enjoy the journey instead of seeing it as a chore.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Gutiérrez, G. S. (2011). Meditación, mindfulness y sus efectos biopsicosociales. Revisión de literatura. Revista electrónica de psicología Iztacala14(2), 26-32.
  • Uscanga, Y. C., & de la Parra, T. R. G. (2014). La complejidad del cambio de hábitos alimentarios. Revista PsicologíaCientífica. com16(11).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.