Why Your Habits Don't Stick and How to Fix That

February 7th, 2019 at 5:00pm
how to stick to habits

It is a little ways out from New Years. The habits we had so much motivation to commit to on the first day of the new year have probably started to lose momentum. If you’re still super committed to your new habits, great job! Maybe you started the year off with zero commitments, but after some reflection want to make changes in your spring semester. Wherever you are, let’s take a step back and really understand how habits are created and how to stick to habits. We’ll help you figure out what you might be doing wrong when you commit to your habits. And really understand how to be successful—even if it’s just making your bed every morning.

Why Can’t I Commit?

There are a number of reasons why habits you want to form aren’t sticking. Maybe you set too high of expectations for yourself. Do you want to wake up at 6:00am to work on your side hustle when you aren’t a morning person? Don’t be afraid to set challenging goals and habits for yourself, but be realistic in your approach to them. Director of the Netflix documentary Minimalism Matt D’Avella spoke about this in his recent YouTube video titled “Get Your New Year’s Resolutions to Stick.” In an interview with Nate Green, they spoke about how you want to put the least resistance between you and achieving that goal.  These tips will help you to dissolve that resistance and be successful.

One Habit at a Time

One form of resistance may be that you have too many goals. At the beginning of the year, it’s easy to plan on forming a bunch of different new habits that you’re very excited about. However, you’ll end up getting flustered and lose the ability to complete those goals if you try too many at once. Instead, focus on one goal at a time. Create a list of what goals or habits you would like to set for the year and start on the first one only. Commit yourself to that goal until it becomes a habit.

Be Realistic

Take your current situation and motivation into consideration. If you want a run a marathon next month when you haven’t ran farther than a mile in your life, maybe you should reconsider your goal. However, reconsider it in a way that will lead you to that larger goal later in life. For example, create a habit of running just one day every week. Building up that consistency is easier to manage but can ultimately lead you to your goal.

Measure It

Setting a measurable goal is a great way to keep track of how you know you’ve reach your goal. If you want to go to the gym more often, tell yourself you will go to the gym one more day than you use to. That’s something you know you can measure and keep track of. If you want to do more reading this year, write down the number of books you want to read. Once you complete these measurable goals, give yourself the permission to celebrate because you can see the progress you have made.

Work Together

Having a accountability partner can be a great way to stick to your goals. Find a friend who will commit to a similar goal as yours. That way you can keep each other accountable. Even if you don’t have the same goal as your friends, make sure to tell them. It can make you feel more responsible for sticking to it.

Know Why You’re Doing It

One of the best things you can do to successfully form new habits is to have a purpose for each habit. Want to wake up five minutes early to meditate in the morning? Are you committing to calling your best friend from home once a week? Ask yourself why you are doing it. Having a purpose can help to drive your motivation to continue to do it every week. It also creates a more positive outlook when you are struggling to keep up with it.


What habits do you want to form this semester? Share yours below!

Opening image by Gabriela Duran


  • Molly Steckler

    I am a senior at DePauw University (only one year left!) majoring in English Writing and also minoring in Sociology and Psychology. I am heavily involved at DePauw as the treasurer for DePauw's Cheerleading team, VP Social Standards for my sorority, Delta Gamma, and Director of Social Media for DePauw's Dance Marathon. I love being able to write about fashion, beauty, and lifestyle for College Fashionista because they have been passions of mine for a very long time, and I want to make women and men who read my articles leave them feeling inspired and confident.