Change is tough, especially when it entails changing one of our ingrained habits, like sleeping in on the weekend or swapping our after work Netflix date for a post-work yoga session.

What’s even harder is making a change stick. Being able to commit to things long-term means we have to make them a habit.

Sounds easy right? I mean, having a 3pm muffin was a pretty easy habit to develop, watching an entire series of a television show in a day, that’s another simple habit but when it comes to creating habits that are good for our health, that can be tricky.

We spoke to happiness and wellness consultant, Dr Bruce Wells about which strategies work (and which ones don’t) to make our healthy habits stick and tick off our goals list like a boss.

  1. Remember your goals

The best thing to keep you motivated is to remember your reason for wanting to develop the habit in the first place. “This is the most important ingredient,” says Dr Wells. By associating your goal with a challenging activity, like heading to the gym after a long day, you’ll feel a greater sense of motivation than if you place all your focus on the task itself.

  1. Create a supportive environment

“We now know that the old 21-day rule for forming habits is a myth. It actually takes around two months for new habits to become automatic,” Dr Wells tells us. This means that if we’re going to stick to things for the long run, we need to make sure our homes and daily routines are without temptation.

If you want to get to the gym before work, move your alarm clock away from the bed so that you have to get up to turn it off (far less tempting to get back in when you’re already up!). Or perhaps you want to eat better-rounded diet– throw away your takeaway menus and make sure your fridge is well stocked at the start of each week. It’s much easier to stick to the plan when your environment supports your goals.

  1. Be realistic

Setting goals that are achievable while still being challenging are more conducive to success. Rather than telling yourself “I must lose 5kg in three months”, change your goal to something that emanates positivity, “I must be more active and eat a better diet over the next three months”– let weight loss be a bonus but not the sole focus. As well as a realistic goal, be realistic when it comes to compliance. “Faltering is a normal part of the process when starting a new habit,” says Dr Wells. If you stray from the path, don’t punish yourself, realise that any goal worth achieving is going to be difficult, refocus and you’ll be more committed tomorrow.