Habit formation is the process by which new behaviors become automatic. If you instinctively reach for a cigarette the moment you wake up in the morning, you have a habit. By the same token, if you feel inclined to lace up your running shoes and hit the streets as soon as you get home, you've acquired a habit. Old habits can be difficult to break, and healthy habits are often harder to develop than one would like. That's because the behavioral patterns we repeat most often are etched into our neural pathways. The good news is that, through repetition, it's possible to form—and maintain—new habits. And even long-time habits that are detrimental to one’s health and well-being can be shaken with enough determination and a smart approach.
Understanding Habit Formation
Making a Habit Stick
It’s all too easy to fall short in the pursuit of behavior change, whether the ultimate aim is to nix a disruptive habit or to establish a new one. Excuses, fatigue, and the vagueness of our goals can spell doom for such endeavors. With some focus, these obstacles can be overcome. Experts advise that strategies such as creating a specific and reasonable goal for behavior change, being mindful of how one’s environment influences the effort to make progress toward it, and looping in other people who care about one’s progress can all help make the process of habit formation more successful.