What Is Habit Formation?
Habit formation is the process by which new behaviors become automatic. Someone who instinctively reaches for a cigarette after waking up has a habit, as does the person who laces up her running shoes and hits the streets as soon as she gets home.
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.
How to Build Better Habits
Whether one's aim is to end a disruptive habit or to establish a healthy one, behavior change can be tough. Excuses, fatigue, and the vagueness of goals can spell doom for such efforts. With some focus, however, these obstacles can be overcome.
Experts advise that strategies such as creating a specific and reasonable goal for change, being mindful of how one’s environment influences one's plans to 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.