How to Form Good Habits (Tips, Mistakes & Examples)

Are you someone who would like to learn how to form good habits?

This article will cover a range of actionable tips to guide you, potential mistakes hindering your progress, and a range of good habit examples to inspire you.

Contents: 

  • What is a Habit?
  • How Do Habits Form?
  • How Long Does it Take to Form a New Habit? 
  • How to Create Good Habits
  • 3 Reasons You’re Failing at Making Good Habits
  • Examples of Good Habits
  • Good Habits Quotes

What is a habit? 

Before we delve into some advice on how to form good habits, let’s first discuss a key question  – what is a habit?

A habit is a tendency to do something. 

More often than not, they’re associated with being a recurring action that benefits you in some way, with the thought that it will eventually help you achieve a goal.

However, not all habits are goal-oriented. Termed ‘bad habits’, these are habits that can be harmful.

Examples of habits that most people do on a daily basis include:

  • Brushing teeth
  • Putting on a seatbelt when getting into a car
  • Eating snacks when stressed
  • Exercising 
  • Smoking cigarettes

As you can see, some of these are habits that contribute positively towards your health and safety whereas there are others that could be damaging.

Your habits are a part of you – they shape who you are and how you function in daily life. 

Habits shape your attitudes about the world and how you take action on certain things, thus helping you develop crucial decision-making skills. 

With this in mind, forming good habits from an early age is likely to transpire through to adulthood as they’re already ingrained into your set of skills.

But, how do you develop good habits? Read on to learn more.

How do habits form?

With the end of the previous point in mind, habits form when behaviours become automatic. 

An example is a parent telling a child to wash their hands before having an evening meal. After a while, washing hands before tea becomes automatic. 

These are typically actions that happen after a lot of repetition and don’t form overnight.

When we want to form new habits, what is termed a ‘habit loop’ must occur.

This is a four-step process that all new habits proceed through. These are cues, craving, response, and reward.

Let’s run through these steps individually so that you know how to form good habits. 

Cues: The first step for developing good habits is analysing your environments to see where cues/rewards are or could be found. 

This step triggers your brain into thinking that a reward is involved each time you perform something. 

Craving: The craving is the motivation behind the cue and thus, the habit. This gives you a reason to act on the cue and change your state of mind.

For example – you crave a snack because of the happiness and stress relief it offers. You may also crave safety and so put on a seatbelt when getting into a car. 

Response: The response is the habit that you form. The response can manifest differently between people depending on how motivated one is. 

For instance, if someone is wanting to form good healthy eating habits, an unmotivated person might not maintain the habit for very long. 

Reward: The reward is what happens when you entertain a craving and response. 

For example, a craving could be seeing a bar and wanting a glass of wine. The response is going into the bar to order a glass of wine and then the reward is drinking it. 

People often chase rewards because they satisfy cravings.

In short, if you’re curious as to how to create good habits, these 4 steps must occur regularly and frequently for the habit to form. 

Now you may be wondering – “how long does it take to develop good habits?”

Check out the next section to discover more. 

How long does it take to form a new habit? 

When wanting to learn how to form good habits, you may be curious as to how long it takes. 

The short answer to this question is that it depends – sorry, we know that this is an annoying answer!

However, it’s likely that you’ve heard once or twice that it takes just 21 days for a habit to form. 

Fortunately, in most cases, this is true but only if you perform the habit every day for 21 days. 

This is because when you perform the action, after a short while, it turns into an association. 

You want to feel safe when you get into a car and so you associate being in the car without a seatbelt with danger. Furthermore, you put on the belt. 

If you’re wanting to create good habits but aren’t consciously doing them each day, it’s likely that it will take longer for the habit to form. 

So, if you’re wanting to develop good habits but have noticed it’s been over 3 weeks, try not to feel as though it’s not working. It simply takes longer if you’re not associating cravings and responses each day.

Plus, each individual is different which is why developing good habits can vary from time to time. 

The next section will detail how to form good habits with some actionable tips and tricks that you can start doing immediately. 

How to Create Good Habits

Are you someone who approached this article wanting to learn how to create good habits, this next section is for you. 

Here we have a list of good habits tips to get you informed about how to maintain behaviours you’re happy with.

#1 – Schedule 

The first tip for developing good habits is to make it a part of your schedule. You’re going to struggle to form good, long-lasting habits if you’re not doing it on a daily basis.

A good habit forms when a behaviour is performed without having to think about it and so must be done frequently and consistently. 

If you have a daily schedule, consider writing the habit you want to form on each day and tick it off once it’s done. 

You could also write a note on a sticky note and attach it to your laptop or by your desk to function as a reminder. 

Eventually, you won’t feel as great a need to jot down your aspiring habits as they’ll become a part of your regular routine. 

It’s at this point that you know that your behaviours are beginning to become a habit. 

#2 – Create a Comfortable Environment 

If you can, try to create an environment where forming good habits is optimal. 

You could surround yourself with people that you know have similar goals to you so that you can work on forming your habits together. 

Having a partner when developing good habits is a great way to encourage one another when the other may lack motivation. That way, you’re each fed positivity and drive when motivation levels may be low. 

If you don’t have a partner, consider telling your family and friends about your goals so that they can encourage you too. 

You should also create environments when temptation may be rife. 

For example, if you’re wanting to create healthy eating habits, avoiding buying unhealthy snacks at the supermarket will help you to not feel influenced into caving. 

Alternatively, rid your cupboards and fridge of anything that could hinder your ability to create good habits.

#3 – Practice self-compassion 

If you’re curious as to how to develop good habits in life, getting into the habit of practising self-compassion is vital. 

Developing good habits is difficult – we aren’t going to sugar-coat this. 

There are going to be times where you see your efforts not being rewarded and instances where forming a good habit can be difficult. 

However, there are ways around this. 

Practising self-compassion can manifest in the form of telling yourself positive things such as “I won’t fail” and “one day I will make it.”

Actively telling yourself that you can do something will put you in a positive mind frame and make you more determined to turn your goals into a reality. 

3 Reasons You’re Failing at Making Good Habits

Now that we’ve covered some tips on how to form good habits, it’s good to look at the other side of the argument and detail ways that you’re potentially hindering your ability to develop good habits.

#1 – You’re taking on too many changes 

If you want to learn how to create good habits, recognising that taking on too many changes too soon can result in failure. 

Consider making a list of what you’d like to change and prioritise them.

Take on one change at a time and put your time and focus into achieving that goal. 

Then, when you feel confident that a behaviour has turned into a habit, you know that you could be ready to take on another.

 

#2 – You’re not truly committed 

You need to be 100%, wholehearted committed to making a change if you’re going to succeed.

You also need to know that it can take around 21 days AT LEAST to form a habit and so you have to be prepared for repeating your behaviour frequently if you want it to become a part of your daily life. 

#3- You’re too focussed on the outcome 

When things don’t happen overnight, we can often get frustrated. 

However, forming a habit is a long, continual process that can take a while to see results. 

You have to have a lot of self-motivation and determination to see these results, and recognising that you won’t see results overnight is paramount. 

Try as best as you can to enjoy the process. It may not be easy but one that will certainly be worthwhile in the end. 

In summary so far, if you’re curious as to how to form good habits, knowing the dos and don’ts of how to do this is super important which is why we’ve tried to give you a balanced argument to see you achieve your goals faster. 

Examples of Good Habits

There is a spectrum of habits that are considered to be ‘good’. 

Some of these may apply to you, while others you may not particularly care to achieve, and some that you may already be doing on a daily basis.

Here is a list of good habits that you could take inspiration from when thinking of how you’d like to change your lifestyle. 

  • Get daily exercise
  • Always eat breakfast
  • Practice healthy eating throughout the day so that treats feel more luxurious
  • Drink 2 litres of water per day
  • Don’t neglect dental hygiene
  • Get 8 hours of sleep each night
  • Don’t look at your phone before bed/first thing in the morning
  • Challenge yourself in life and take some risks
  • Eat your 5-a-day
  • Try to go for a walk each day, especially those that work from home

Good Habits Quotes

Do you feel more confident with knowing how to form good habits? 

You may have thought of some good habits to have based on our example list with some ideas on what you’d like to incorporate into your own life. 

With that, here are some examples of good habits to keep you inspired when motivation may be lax. 

Our Conclusions…

So there we have our overview on how to form good habits. 

Whether you approached this article wondering how to build good habits that stick or wanted an insight into a list of good habits, we hope you enjoyed this article.

We also hope that you now know how to develop good habits to reap the full benefits that they provide.

45 thoughts on “How to Form Good Habits (Tips, Mistakes & Examples)”

  1. This was such a helpful post! I really want to make reading more a habit this year as well as drinking more water and I think scheduling in more reading time will really help with that. It’s so important to be kind to ourselves when forming new habits too! Thank you so much for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a great post! I completely agree with you when you say that scheduling and practicing self-compassion are ways to develop good habits. I am constantly reminding myself of this as I am trying to create a routine of exercising regularly. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I need to do better about creating and sustaining good habits. It’s one thing to know what you should do but another to actually do something positive for yourself. Great list of ideas to incorporate. I definitely need to do better.

    Like

  4. Loved this awesome read, as I struggle a little when it comes to forming a new habit. The problem may be I have one too many things on my plate right now and need to reevaluate the usefulness of how I spend my time.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This post is amazing. I have a few new habits that I would like to start. Some of this information will come in handy. Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post Emily! Forming good habits take time and practicing self-compassion is crucial. It’s also important to start small and not overwhelm ourselves in the process. Making a list and prioritizing them is a great tip. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My biggest question about habits has always been: why is it so easy to form bad ones and so challenging to maintain good ones? Haha. It’s a conundrum! But I’m grateful that I’ve cultivated some really excellent habits over the years. Now, it’s just time to get rid of those nasty ones that make my life more difficult!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Really great post~ I love that you mentioned taking on too much as a cautionary example because it’s so true! Sometimes when we try to do everything we end up not doing anything because we get overwhelmed. Very useful article thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m loving this post and the tips you’ve shared, thank you so much! I’ll defiantly be keeping your list of good habits in my mind and incorporate them into my daily life. I’m always trying to better myself so this is really helpful Xo

    Elle – ellegracedeveson.com

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am in the process of adopting more good and helpful to my progress habits so this post was really helpful to me. It is impressive if you tgink about it how ourhole life is hugely affected by our habits. Thank you for this reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A brilliantly well thought out post full of useful tips! The good habit I’ve recently introduced into my life is doing a speed clean 3 times a week and a big clean once a week. The big clean is a deep clean but the speed cleans are either 20 or 30 mins and it just helps to keep on top of the mess! Tidy environment tidy mind! Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This was such a helpful post and so full of tips! I think that what most helps is making them part of your routine and scheduling as well as being compassionate to yourself! It takes a lot, but I think small steps are always the way x

    Liked by 1 person

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