How to build healthy habits that stick


How to Build Healthy Habits (That Actually Stick)

Chances are, you already know what healthy habits you should be doing (eat nutritious food, exercise, get good sleep, hang out with friends, etc.). And, chances are, you’ve already tried to implement these habits several times, but it just never seems to stick.

A study by the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that approximately 54% of people who resolve to change their ways fail to make the transformation last beyond six months, and the average person makes the same life resolution 10 times over without success.

There’s nothing wrong with you! It’s how our brains are actually designed to work. But with a few simple strategies, we can override this default setting of our brains to make sticking to healthy habits SO much easier.

Read on to learn the science behind why it’s tough to stick to new habits, especially if you have ADHD or anxiety, and a step-by-step guide to building habits that stick.

Why is it so hard to stick with habits?

Does this scenario sound familiar?

You see someone on Tik Tok achieve something you really desire. Maybe it’s a mom who’s in really great shape.

You get really inspired and motivated and you think, “I can do it. I’m gonna start prepping healthy meals, take my supplements, and work out for an hour every day."

Maybe you stick with it for a couple days, or a week, and then you fall off the wagon.

We’ve all been there!

That’s because our brains are wired for instant gratification, thanks to a brain chemical called dopamine. We seek pleasure, reward and satisfaction, right now, and with the least amount of effort possible.

This dopamine-seeking behavior was beneficial in the early days of humankind. It was a survival tool that helped us seek out things we needed to survive, like comfort and calories, and to avoid discomfort.

In the modern world though, we are surrounded by easy access to dopamine highs.

Hungry? Order Door Dash. Bored? Watch Netflix.

This makes it difficult to stick to things that may not give us instant gratification, but are healthier for us in the long run.

If you have ADHD or Anxiety, it can be even more difficult. People with ADHD often struggle with routine, and anxiety tends to make us feel stuck and overwhelmed. Both of which make it a struggle to start and keep new habits. But there is a way!

Common mistakes you might be making when trying to create healthy habits

Too much too soon

Evaluate how realistic your goals actually are and if you’re trying to start a bunch of things all at once. If you do too much too soon, you’ll likely get overwhelmed, discouraged, and give up.

Rely too much on willpower and motivation

Willpower and motivation come and go, they are not reliable. So if you only do things when you “feel like it”, you’ll likely fail. Again, our brain is wired to seek the path of least resistance.

Expecting perfection

You’re going to slip up from time to time, but that doesn’t mean all the progress you’ve already made is ruined and that you should just throw in the towel.

Unrealistic expectations

You’re not going to have washboard abs after going to the gym once or twice. It takes consistent effort over a period of time to start to see results. Again, this is why habits are hard to stick to because we want that instant dopamine hit.

How to get habits to stick

1. Know your why

If you don’t have a strong reason for why you’re doing something, you’re going to give up as soon as things get tough. Setting a goal to get in shape just because everyone else is doing it is way different than setting that goal to become a good example for your kids, or because you want to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease that runs in your family.

Once you know your why, write it somewhere where you’ll see it and be reminded every single day.

2. Create identity goals

Rather than setting a goal like “I want to write a book this year”, which is outcome based, set a goal that is identity based, like “I am becoming a person who writes for 20 min every morning.”

This is way less intimidating than a big goal like writing a book, but the habit of being a person who writes every day allows you to reach that goal and feels more manageable.

3. Start small

You’re setting yourself up for failure if you’re expecting to meditate for an hour every morning when you’ve never meditated before. Instead, work your way up to that by starting with just 2 minutes a day, and gradually adding on more minutes.

It’s up to you to determine what is “small” vs. “too big” for you personally, because it’s all relative.

4. Override your brain by removing resistance (or add resistance if trying to break a bad habit)

Your brain wants the path of least resistance, so take away resistance if you want to build a healthy habit, and add resistance if you want to break a bad habit.

Let’s say you want to start consistently taking your PYM Mood Omegas because you know you’ll get better results and boost your long-term brain health (wink wink).

Instead of having to remember to put in a new order when your supply runs out, and pay more money for one-time purchases (resistance), you could sign up for auto-delivery and save money. It's like clearing the path for yourself as much as possible.

Our auto-delivery program gives you complete control- pause, swap, delay or cancel any time, all while having peace of mind that you’ll never run out.

5. Create systems

There is a great concept called habit-stacking, which means you stack a new habit you’re trying to create with a habit you already have. For example, let’s say you’re trying to create the habit of taking your PYM Mood Magnesium every night to improve your sleep.

If you already have the habit of brushing your teeth before bed (hopefully you do!), you can stack on the habit of drinking your Mood Magnesium right before or after you brush your teeth.

6. Get accountability

According to an American Society of Training & Development study, you are 95% more likely to succeed by simply directing accountability to a third party. That’s why you’re way more likely to be successful at getting in shape if you hire a personal trainer, or have a workout buddy who’s waiting for you at the gym.

Join communities or masterminds of people trying to achieve the same goal as you.

7. Let go of perfection

You’re going to make mistakes, and that’s ok! Don’t let one slip up totally derail you, just get back to it the next day. You will not lose all the progress you have built. Just be careful not to let the habit go for too long.

James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says, "One mistake is just an outlier. Two mistakes is the beginning of a pattern. Killing this pattern before it snowballs into something bigger is one reason why learning how to get back on track quickly is an essential skill for building good habits."

PYM’s mission is to make mental hygiene a habit that’s as easy as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. We can take small actions every day that positively influence our mental wellness so that we become more resilient to everyday stress.

That’s why we created the Total Reset Kit, a bundle with all the research-backed nutrients you need to easily support your mental well-being. Get your energy back, sleep better, say goodbye to brain fog and hello to enhanced cognitive function all with the Total Reset Kit. Sign up now to get 40% off your first purchase!